UK faces more price rises, warns energy chief


London : The chief executive of Britain’s biggest power supplier warned Tuesday that UK households face more hikes in gas and electricity bills.

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Sam Laidlaw of British Gas owner Centrica told a parliamentary inquiry that soaring wholesale energy costs mean it is “clear” prices will have to go up.

“The issue we face in the UK is that, as our gas production falls, we are no longer isolated from international markets and have to buy increasingly large volumes of gas from different parts of the world,” Laidlow told the Business and Enterprise Select Committee.

“While other costs remain broadly static or have fallen, the rising commodity costs form an ever greater proportion of customers’ bills,” he said.

Wholesale gas prices for next winter were said to have doubled this year compared to 2007, recently passing through the Pnds 1 (Dlrs 2) a therm barrier for the first time.

Laidlow’s warning comes after reports that energy bills could rise by as much as 40 per cent by the end of 2008. This is extra to an average 15 per cent rise imposed by the UK’s major energy firms at the start of this year.

The MPs launched their inquiry into the market to look at the case for referring energy firms to the Competition Commission, and examine whether companies and the government are doing enough to help the fuel poor.