Plans by the competition watchdog to remedy the energy market and make it easier for people to switch between providers have been put back by six months.
The Competition and Markets (CMA) watchdog will now conclude their investigation by next summer rather than by the end of the year, as had been expected, giving energy firms some breathing space.
The extended timeframe will give the CMA "sufficient time to consider the many detailed responses" from several groups, including suppliers, consumer groups, regulators and the government, it said.
"This investigation – and the measures that could result from it – will have long-standing consequences for millions of customers in an industry of vital importance to the whole country. As the most comprehensive investigation into the energy market since privatisation, this is a once in a generation opportunity to shape the future of this market for the better. It’s important that we get it right," said the chairman of the CMA's energy market investigation Roger Witcomb.
Provisional results of the already year-long probe, published in July, identified a number of issues in the market, and several possible measures to address them, including a price cap on energy bills because it found customers were paying too much.
The CMA did note that it would aim to deliver the findings "well within" the new timeframe, with a provisional decision by January and a final decision by the end of April.
Shares in London-listed energy firms SSE and Centrica, which runs British Gas, experienced a share price bump of more than one per cent in morning trading.