Tory Grandee Spicer To Quit As EnergyUK Chair
The former chairman of the Conservative 1922 Committee is to step down from the helm of the energy industry's principal lobbying group, leaving a vacancy at a critical time for the sector.
Sky News understands Lord Spicer, who has been chairman of EnergyUK since the body was formed in 2012, notified its board earlier this year that he wanted to retire.
A search is under way for his successor, with an appointment expected by the end of the year, sources said on Tuesday.
Lord Spicer, a former Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department of Energy during the premiership of Margaret Thatcher, was on the board of the Association of Electricity Producers prior to it being subsumed into EnergyUK.
His replacement will take up the post at a turbulent time for Britain's energy industry, with the Big Six retailers under intense public and political pressure over prices and a string of mis-selling scandals.
The sector has consistently argued the scale of environmental levies and transmission costs have inhibited their ability to pass on falls in wholesale gas prices.
Last week EnergyUK responded to a letter from the head of Ofgem, the industry regulator, which had asked the major suppliers to justify the fact that they had not passed on recent wholesale price falls to customers.
"There are now 24 domestic energy retailers in the UK. They buy gas and electricity months and even years in advance to smooth out the swings in the market. When wholesale prices fall it can take time for bills to catch up as the gas and power may have been bought at a higher price some time ago," EnergyUK said.
"The suppliers also have to take all manner of risks and wider costs into account, including political and regulatory issues. The industry is committed to openness and will be answering the questions on wholesale prices to their customers and to the authorities."
Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, has vowed to introduce a 20-month price freeze if he wins next year's General Election, while Ofgem is due to set out the details of a full competition inquiry into the sector in the coming weeks.
Lord Spicer's successor as chairman of EnergyUK will work alongside Angela Knight, the former head of the British Bankers' Association, who took over at the energy lobbying group two years ago.
A spokeswoman for EnergyUK declined to comment.