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Big GWPF Success: British Gas Promises Transparent Energy Bills

The Government has to come clean and force the power companies to make their bills fully transparent. Only then will the true cost of the Government’s mad rush towards renewable energy become clear, allowing voters to back or sack those who formulated the policy. Benny Peiser, Daily Mail, 9 June 2011

British Gas has promised to simplify energy tariffs and provide a more transparent billing system in a bid to regain the trust of its customers. It has also vowed to provide customers with a complete breakdown of all the costs that make up their bills, including green levies and company profits.

The country’s largest domestic energy provider has announced it will now offer just two tariffs – variable and fixed.

It has also vowed to provide customers with a complete breakdown of all the costs that make up their bills, including green levies and company profits.

Managing director Phil Bentley admitted British Gas “had not made it easy for customers” in the past and a letter would be sent out explaining the new policy.

We welcome the news that energy companies recognise that the ways in which they have constructed and sold tariffs has confused, antagonised and alienated consumers.

“It’s time for change. It’s clear that the energy industry is facing a crisis of trust and we have all got to work much harder to rebuild public confidence,” he said.

“Customers have given us a very clear message; they want simple tariffs, transparent bills and a fair deal on energy.

“But we’ve also got to have the honest conversation about the future of energy in Britain.

“That means being much clearer about the cost of producing and providing energy to customers’ homes, the rising cost of green levies, the impact of rising demand in international markets – and, the profits the industry makes.”

Earlier this year the consumer organisation Which? warned that energy tariffs were too complicated for many customers to understand.

Most Britain’s struggle to understand their domestic energy bill

Which? asked 36 members of the public to calculate the cost of a domestic energy bill using information from suppliers’ websites.

But the task proved too difficult for all but one of the group – even an accountant was among those who failed the test.

From now on, instead of being offered seven different tariffs, British Gas customers will go through a three-step process, choosing whether they would like a variable or fixed tariff, paper or online bills, and how they would like to pay.

Consumer groups have praised the simplified system, saying customers had been “bamboozled” by the energy market for “too long”.

Consumer Focus director Adam Scorer said although it will not bring prices down it will at least make it easier for customers to shop around for a better deal.

“Energy is a simple product, it should also be a simple market,” he said.

Energy regulator Ofgem said it would analyse the changes made by British Gas, which come after it fined the company £2.5m for failing to deal properly with customer complaints.

Sky News, 24 November 2011

Benny Peiser: The Government has to come clean and force the power companies to make their bills fully transparent.

Daily Mail, 9 June 2011

For residential customers, the cost of the Renewables Obligation and European Emission Transfer Scheme needs to be itemised in the same way VAT currently is. If the EETS really is costing each household an average of £100 a year, then householders have a right to know that.

For business customers, many of which pay huge power bills already, both the Climate Change Levy and the Carbon Floor Price, where appropriate, need to be separately quantified and itemised.

Only then will those facing spiralling power bills have all the information required to make the appropriate decisions. Only then will it be possible to see if a power company has been raising its prices unfairly and change supplier.

And only then will the true cost of the Government’s mad rush towards renewable energy become clear, allowing voters to back or sack those who formulated the policy.

But full transparency could have also have one other benefit. It could persuade the Coalition Government to rethink this misguided and unaffordable energy policy altogether.