Two of the UK’s ‘big six’ energy firms have hiked gas and electricity prices – adding to the misery for millions of hard-pressed households.
Scottish & Southern Energy (SSE), which has 8.8 million UK customers, is raising gas prices by 29.2% and average electricity costs by 19.2% from Monday. Its household brands include Southern Electric, Swalec and Scottish Hydro Electric.
Rival Eon has also unveiled rises of 26% and 16% in gas and electricity prices respectively. Its rises come into force today.
Both firms blamed soaring wholesale energy prices.
The price hikes follow similar moves from British Gas and EDF last month. This leaves just Npower and Scottish Power as the remaining major energy firms which have yet to raise prices.
SSE, the UK’s second largest supplier, said the average dual fuel customer would see annual bills rise by £253 a year to £1,259. It is the second hike its customers have faced since April.
Eon, which has 5.5 million UK customers, said dual fuel customers would see their annual bills rise by 22%, or £227, to £1,226. This is an average of those paying by monthly direct debit and those who pay bills quarterly.
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Alison Morrison, of Switch with Which?, said: ‘After the price rises from British Gas and EDF, it isn’t surprising that SSE and Eon have followed suit.
‘Consumers will be concerned about their gas and electricity bills, and they should review the impact of these price changes by comparing their current tariff against other options. People paying by quarterly cash or cheque could make savings by switching to a monthly direct debit payment method.’
The move comes just after wholesale gas prices jumped more than 14% when a leak on a North Sea pipeline prompted fears about supplies this winter.
Wholesale gas prices for the winter continued their rise yesterday, putting pressure on energy companies to pass on rising costs to households.
Norway’s oil and gas producer Statoil Hydro said it discovered the leak on a gas pipeline linking its Kvitebjoern field to an onshore processing plant. The pipeline could remain shut until next spring.
British Gas announced another 35% rise for gas bills last month, and 9% for electricity, with rival EDF upping bills by up to 22%.
SSE’s energy supply director, Alistair Phillips-Davies, said: ‘The world is experiencing an energy shock of a kind not seen since the early 1970s, but which is likely to have more profound and lasting consequences.’
The increases would have been even higher but for the fact wholesale prices had fallen slightly in recent weeks, the firm added – although more vulnerable customers would not face higher bills until at least the end of the winter period.
Graham Bartlett, the managing director of Eon’s retail business, said: ‘I’m very aware of the effect that the announcement will have on our customers and I recognise that this is a very tough time for everyone.
‘This was not an easy decision to make and we’ve tried to keep these increases as low as possible while protecting as many of our customers as we can.’
Eon said around 1.4 million of its customers on price protection and fixed tariff products would be unaffected by the higher bills.
The firm said it was expanding its investment to protect more vulnerable customers, with those on its Age Concern Energy Services tariff having their prices capped for the next 12 months.