Business

Energy firms and government must 'work together'

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Media captionEDF boss says energy companies and government need to join forces to keep costs down

Two of the biggest energy companies have spoken out against attacks by politicians amid a backlash over rising prices.

The head of EDF Energy, Vincent de Rivaz, told the Andrew Marr Show: "We should join forces to bear down the costs" of energy.

The chairman of Centrica wrote in a newspaper that the "Punch and Judy politics on energy must stop".

E.On last week became the last of the big six firms to increase its prices.

The government announced recently that changes to green and social levies meant that customers of the big six energy companies would see a £50 reduction, on average, in their bills.

This came after many of the large energy firms had announced big price rises during the autumn.

Mr de Rivaz told Andrew Marr that energy firms and the government needed to work together. "Energy bills are hurting. It's not good enough for the energy companies to say that nothing can be done."

He added that energy firms "have a responsibility, we should be a force for good".

Earlier this year, Labour leader Ed Miliband pledged that gas and electricity bills would not go up for 20 months if Labour won the 2015 election.

When asked if a price freeze was implemented, would energy companies raise their prices before and after, Mr de Rivaz said: "We should not behave like that".

EDF is to increase prices by 3.9% on 3 January.

Centrica owns British Gas, the UK's biggest energy supplier, which announced that it would cut prices by 3.2% on 1 January, following the government rebate. That follows a 9.2% increase on dual fuel bills - covering gas and electricity - which came into effect on 23 November.

'False' charges

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Centrica's outgoing chairman Sir Roger Carr said politicians must stop bashing big energy firms.

"All energy companies have been accused of profiteering, collaborating with competitors, manipulating costs to disguise profits, and caring little for their customers.

"These charges are false."

Sir Roger said that, despite energy being in short supply outside of North America, the UK's energy market had provided one of the lowest price levels in Europe.

"It is wrong to provide false hope to consumers that green energy can be a cheap commodity or that supply can be delivered without major investment," he added. "Low energy costs are a thing of the past and a fiction of the future."

The average annual dual-fuel bill is £1,315 per UK household, according to figures published by regulator Ofgem in mid-September.