By Max Clarke

Gas and electricity regulators have called on the 'big 6' energy companies to 'sweep away complex and unfair' pricing practices, or risk facing a Competition Commission referral.

Ofgem’s proposals should force open the electricity and gas markets to ensure the market works effectively for consumers. The energy supply companies have eight weeks in which to engage constructively with Ofgem’s proposals. If firms frustrate reforms they risk ending up at the Competition Commission. This is a holistic package of changes. We will also discuss with Government, if we believe our consumer protection powers need reinforcement.”

Furthermore, the 6 (Scottish Power, British Gas, EDF Energy, Npower, Scottish and Southern Energy and Eon) are to sell off between 10-20% of their power generation capabilities via Mandatory Auctions in order to foster competition.

Ofgem has previously looked into what have been considered monopolistic behaviour among the big 6, and in 2008 investigated allegations of price fixing. They were all cleared.

“Energy companies have failed to play it straight with consumers” said Chief Executive Alistair Buchanan, “and so Ofgem is proposing to break the stranglehold the Big Six have over the electricity market by making them auction up to 20 per cent of their generation output. This would increase price transparency and make it easier for new players to enter the retail market.