Business

Fuel costs: Your questions to Robert Peston

Robert prepares to take questions in the Q&A
Image caption Robert prepares to take questions in the Q&A

Energy firms have started announcing plans to pass on savings to customers as the government unveils a package of measures aimed at reducing bills.

Some subsidies for those in fuel poverty will be moved into general taxation and some green policy targets will be slowed down. The government said this would cut energy bills by a total of £50 a year for the average household.

However, overall prices are rising this winter for most energy customers.

So what impact will these changes have on you? BBC business editor Robert Peston (@Peston) answered your questions on this subject in a Twitter Q&A.

Here is an edited version of the session, which was held on Monday 2 December 2013.

Question from Phil Wright by email: What happens if you've fixed your gas or electricity prices for the next 1-3 years? #AskBBCPeston

Robert answers: British Gas says will pass on £50 reduction in price increase to those on fixed price tariffs. Not clear if others will #AskBBCPeston

Question from @IanWatoop: @Peston Is not putting up something as much as you said you would "a cut"? #AskBBCPeston

Robert answers: No, don't be fooled into thinking prices going up 5% instead of 9% is price cut. Prices still rising faster than inflation #AskBBCPeston

Question from @blackshawmoor: If the government want to help, why not remove the 5%VAT? #AskBBCPeston

Robert answers: EU rules make it impossible for government to cut VAT - even if the government wanted to lose all that revenue #AskBBCPeston

Question from: @EPAChaz: Should renationalisation of energy supply be on the political agenda, if not why not? #AskBBCPeston

Robert answers: Dunno whether it should be, but the Thatcherite victory [over] those who favour state ownership seems to be total #AskBBCPeston

Question from: @Hatross: Wholesale price of renewable electricity is more than domestic retail price of electricity. Is there a solution? #AskBBCPeston

Robert answers: Price of renewable energy will become more competitive, the more time elapses from initial expensive construction #AskBBCPeston

Question from: @Stanley_ToolBox: Is competition in energy a myth? Is it all a cartel ripping off the public? #AskBBCPeston

Robert answers: Competition may not be intense enough, given that almost everyone agrees that the structure of the market needs reviewing #AskBBCPeston

Question from: @alonella55: @Peston do the reduced increases apply to single fuel deals? Rural areas do NOT have access to gas! #AskBBCPeston

Robert answers: The reduced increases will apply to single fuel deals on a pro rata basis #AskBBCPeston

Question from: @KeirStitt: Over the medium & long term, how much better or worse will we be as a result of this new energy policy? #AskBBCPeston

Robert answers: If policy slows pace of insulating homes/offices, we could be worse off in long term - tho government insists won't happen #AskBBCPeston

Question from: @Lofty_P: Why won't the government confront energy companies on increased profit taking? #AskBBCPeston

Robert answers: Government is not sure that companies are making excessive profits - so is examining this #AskBBCPeston

Question from: @ColinHynson: Nobody seems to be talking about Peak Oil. What's your take on this and is it a factor? #AskBBCPeston

Robert answers: The cheapest-to-extract oil and gas is almost gone. This is important long-term driver of rising prices #AskBBCPeston

Question from: @OlliePerks: Why aren't the energy firms regulated like water? Thames Water had 2 rises rejected. #AskBBCPeston

Robert answers: Transmission costs of gas/electricity are regulated like water. Supply isn't, coz it's assumed there is competition #AskBBCPeston

Question from: @waters_adam: Companies repeatedly refer to how much they have to invest in infrastructure. How valid a reason is this? #AskBBCPeston

Robert answers: There is always argument about how much investment in infrastructure is needed, but would be disaster if network collapsed #AskBBCPeston

Question from: @kingthumb: With greater reliance on fossil fuels, less commitment to green energy. Will rising fuel prices be the norm? #AskBBCPeston

Robert answers: If rising demand for fossil fuels from China slowed sharply, we'd see flattening of prices. Not impossible #AskBBCPeston

Question from: @PhilSBG: What is the likely impact on investment in next generation power supplies? #AskBBCPeston

Robert answers: Today's announcements should have zero impact on investment in power generation, but this low - perhaps worryingly - now #AskBBCPeston

Question from: @steverobson1983: Why isn't there more competition in supply to break up big 6 oligopoly? Barriers to entry? #AskBBCPeston

Robert answers: There are serious - and some would say very worrying - barriers to new serious new competition in energy #AskBBCPeston

Question from: @Lynn_Shepherd: Wholesale prices are by definition universal - are energy costs as high/as hot an issue elsewhere? #AskBBCPeston

Robert answers: UK retail energy tariffs more linked to fluctuating gas price than in many countries, so price particularly hot issue here #AskBBCPeston

Question from: @ChrisNickson2: Could we ask for your analysis of Arsenal's chances of winning the title this year? #AskBBCPeston

Robert answers: All I can say is "oo to, oo to be, oo to be a...Gooner" #AskBBCPeston

You can follow Robert on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Peston

Twitter Q&A produced by Jeremy Gahagan