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Energy minister plans to “get tough” on energy suppliers via unlimited fines

26 September 2011

Energy Minister, Chris Huhne is today revealing plans on how he intends to ‘get tough’ with energy suppliers.

By introducing a set of new rules, which could see a deadline for switching and unlimited fines for energy companies when customers are overcharged, energy suppliers could face new challenges.

Mr Huhne is expected to speak out against the leading six energy suppliers later today at the Liberal Democrats party conference in Birmingham.

British Gas, Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE), Scottish Power, EDF Energy, E.ON and nPower have all recently been criticised for raising their price of gas and electricity, some by almost 20% which adds an extra £200 to annual duel fuel bills.

Last week Mr Huhne drew attention to himself by blaming consumers for not seeking the best energy deals available to them.

He claimed that energy suppliers are getting away with treating customers unfairly, providing a poor service and introducing high prices without the threat of losing customers.

Today, he is expected to reveal a wave of reforms for energy suppliers including one that will force companies to allow customers to switch supplier in just three weeks, which is significantly shorter than the current period.

Mr Huhne is calling on industry regulator, Ofgem to impose unlimited fines on companies who overcharge their customers.

The money raised from the fines will go back into the pocket of the consumers through rebates and on their bills rather than to the Treasury.

Ofgem already has the power to fine companies up to 10% of their annual turnover. 

The detailed plans also include stopping delays to Ofgem rulings by giving companies the right of appeal, instead of allowing rulings to be referred to the Competition Commission, which can slow down the process.

Should these new reforms go ahead it will be good news for consumers, who often find themselves trapped into a policy whereby they cannot switch over quickly.

The energy minister plans to help people save money by making it easier for them to switch suppliers and find cheaper deals.

We want simpler tariffs, requiring energy companies to tell you whether you could buy more cheaply on another tariff," said Mr Huhne speaking to the BBC.

If you want to find a cheaper tariff now, compare gas and electricity prices with Money Expert.

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