Energy customers set to get price rise warningsWhich? campaigning achieves change for customers

15 February 2010

A blue flame from a gas hob

Although there is no 'green gas', you can still switch your energy supplier to a green tariff

Energy regulator Ofgem is set to change rules that allow energy suppliers to wait more than two months before telling customers their energy prices have risen.

Under changes proposed by the energy watchdog, suppliers would have to warn customers before putting up prices.

Regulator Ofgem has said it will consult on proposals that include reducing the time limit energy suppliers are allowed for informing customers of price rises.

Which? chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith said: ‘We’re pleased that the government agrees with us that the current rules are completely unfair on consumers and that Ofgem has taken the lead by deciding to consult on the issue.

‘It’s outrageous that currently energy suppliers can keep their customers in the dark over a price hike for so long.’

New rules for energy price hikes

At present, energy suppliers can wait up to 65 days to tell customers that their energy prices have risen. Ofgem’s consultation will look at a variety of different options for changing these rules.

The regulator said that in the future energy suppliers may be required to notify customers of price changes in advance, or at least 10 days after the price increase.

Government action

Last week the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) tabled an amendment to the Energy Bill that would allow the Secretary of State to set the period that energy suppliers have to notify customers of price increases.

Joan Ruddock, Energy and Climate Change Minister said: 'Energy price hikes are difficult at the best of times. But it is utterly unacceptable that people might not be told for up to 65 days that they're paying more for their energy.

'Energy companies have got to be fair to customers, and if they aren’t and if Ofgem can't fix it, then we will.'

In response, Ofgem has said it will look into the issue at ‘a matter of urgency’ and will publish its consultation before Easter.

Cut your energy bills

If you want to save money on your energy bills compare prices at Which? Switch.

Read more about our energy bills campaign to find out how we're fighting for a better deal for consumers.

Which? RSS and Twitter news feeds

For daily consumer news, subscribe to the Which? news RSS feed. If you have an older web browser you may need to copy and paste into your newsreader. Find out more about RSS in the Which? guide to news feeds.

You can also follow WhichNews on Twitter for all the latest consumer news.