Financial News

  • 2 June 2014, 19:57

Energy Boss On Breakdown In Trust Over Bills

The boss of a UK power generator has told Sky News there has been a breakdown in trust between the industry and customers over energy bills.

Dorothy Thompson, chief executive of the Drax Group, told the Ian King Live programme this needed to be rebuilt along with improved levels of transparency.

Rising energy bills have been at the centre of a continuing political row, with Labour promising to freeze energy prices for 20 months if the party is elected.

Earlier this year, industry regulator Ofgem said profit increases and price hikes had intensified public distrust of suppliers, and also highlighted the need for a market investigation "to clear the air".

It referred the "big six" UK energy suppliers to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), the new competition body, "to consider once and for all whether there are further barriers to effective competition".

Only last month, energy giant E.On was told it has to pay out 12m to some of its customers following an investigation into mis-selling by Ofgem.

Ms Thompson told Sky's Ian King: "I do think we are in a very difficult position here in the industry, and particularly in respect of consumer bills because I think there has been a breakdown in trust, and I think that's very hard for everyone in the industry and we have to work hard to improve the levels of trust and transparency."

The group runs Drax power station near Selby, North Yorkshire, which uses a combination of coal and biomass to supply around 8% of Britain's electricity needs.

The company is taking legal action against the Government over its decision not to support the conversion of one of its coal units to biomass under a new subsidy scheme.

The move came as a blow to its plans to modernise its plant and make it more environmentally-friendly, and led to a drop in its share price.

Ms Thompson said: "We are challenging their decision. There's a good process for that with government and that is judicial review and it's because we don't understand their decision.

"We are looking through judicial review to get a proper explanation or actually a reversal."

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