Energy suppliers in the United Kingdom including Scottish Gas are warning that an investigation into the market could increase the chances of black outs.
The investigation in question is a full scale inquiry into the industry following fears about the dominance of the Big Six and the high prices many of them are charging despite huge profits. It is expected to take two years for the investigation to be complete. The industry watch dog, Ofgem, is backing the investigation claiming it is necessary amid the public’s mistrust and rising cost of living.
However, Scottish Gas’s owner Centrica are warning that the probe could create a level of uncertainty in the industry that would threaten billions of pounds worth of investment. This could eventually, they claim, risk the money needed to keep the lights on across the United Kingdom.
The chief executive, Sam Laidlaw, said:
A prolonged period of uncertainty could damage investment at a time when Britain’s energy security is being seriously challenged.
Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat Business Secretary, has denounced the comments made by Centrica as ‘over dramatic’. Meanwhile, the Energy Secretary for the Liberal Democratic party agreed that there would be no risk of black outs by saying:
The lights are going to stay on … we are seeing record levels of investment in energy.
The Labour Party, led by Ed Miliband, called for all the energy prices to be frozen while the regulators carry out the investigation. This would freeze the prices between now and 2016. The party’s Shadow Energy Secretary, Caroline Flint, also said that firms like Scottish Gas should follow the lead that Scottish Southern Electric have taken and cap costs. She said:
If I was standing where the Secretary of State is stood I would be taking action to impose a price freeze for all consumers. Instead of defending the Big Six and asking for their cooperation, why doesn’t he just enforce a price freeze right now?
Scottish Gas is the trading name for the Centrica owned utility company British Gas in Scotland. Together, they serve around 12 million homes around the United Kingdom. British Gas is one of the oldest energy providers in the country with a history that extends back as far as 1812. It began as the Gas Light And Coke Company before taking on the name British Gas Corporation in 1973. The company contributes to many communities through sports events, apprenticeships and much more.