Npower and Scottish Power have hiked their gas and electricity prices by up to 34%.
The move, announced on Friday, made the suppliers the last of the ‘big six’ to raise their prices.
Npower’s rises of 26% for gas and 14% for electricity took immediate effect while Scottish Power’s customers saw their gas prices go up by 34% and electricity by 9% from 1 September.
EDF and British Gas
EDF Energy’s customers were the first to feel the pain when the supplier increased the cost of gas by 22% and electricity by 17% in July.
British Gas fell in line a few days later with a 35% increase on gas and 9% on electricity, while Eon and Scottish & Southern Energy (SSE) both announced similar rises on 21 August.
Gas and electricity watchdog Energywatch said that average prices have risen a record 38% in 2008 – beating 2006 when prices went up by 32% in a single year.
Campaigns director Adam Scorer called for more competition in the market and said: ‘Six price rises from the “big six” in just five weeks caps a miserable summer for consumers and highlights just how the companies appear to act in step with each other – even if not in concert.’
All companies have blamed higher wholesale costs. Npower said that the price it pays for wholesale gas has doubled in the last 18 months.
Willie MacDiarmid, Scottish Power’s director of energy retail, said: ‘The continuing volatility in the global market for gas is directly contributing to increasing UK’s domestic energy prices and Scottish Power is not immune to these rises.’
However, Energywatch said that the price of gas had fallen back in recent weeks, and questioned the companies’ need to raise prices by ‘staggering amounts’.
Mr Scorer added: ‘Prices are still set in relation to an irrational and toxic link to the price of oil. Whether the remedy is to break the contractual link between oil and gas prices, or whether it is to find other ways to force greater competition into the European wholesale market, it must be the subject of determined and vigorous intervention by competition authorities at home and in Europe.’
Energywatch said it expected the government to announce a raft of measures to protect the most vulnerable consumers in the coming weeks.
Switch with Which?
Alison Morrison, from Which?’s free and independent switching site, Switch with Which?, said: ‘If you’re feeling the pinch of higher energy prices then it pays to make sure you’re on the best deal available.
‘Switching from quarterly cash or cheque to monthly direct debit payment can reduce your bills significantly. And going for an online tariff will save you even more.’
On average, customers who used Switch with Which? saved £233 in a year, based on figures gathered from October 2007 to March 2008.