Energy Price Hike Calls For An Ofgem Probe: Making A Complaint And Investigating
Although the increase in gas and electricity prices is normal, some energy suppliers may have crossed the line. As a result, the market calls for an Ofgem probe to find out about the energy market and whether it is working effectively.
In 2008, several energy companies including one of the Big Six was involved in putting up high bills. Apparently, the British Gas has announced an improvement in its profit following the price hike.
However, Ofgem wasn’t able to find enough evidence against the accusations but the regulatory board is doing its best to attend to the issues of the customers. It chief executive, Alistair Buchanan explained that the probe is done as a response to the public’s concern regarding the market and if it is working effectively. Apparently, there were unexpected increases in wholesale prices. If there was indeed a problem, it would raise the concern to the Competition Commission for more investigation.
The investigation will find out the following:
– The connection between retail and wholesale energy rates
– What hinders customers from switching to a new energy supplier
– How difficult it is for new suppliers to penetrate the market
– How competitive prices look to various kinds of energy customers
Who Is Ofgem?
Recognized by EU Directives, Ofgem is an independent department that protects and serves existing and potential energy customers. Their function includes:
– supporting value for money
– supporting the sustainability ad supply’s security for the sake of present and future gas and electricity users
– monitoring and improving the market and competition
– management and control of the government schemes
The department works with the government, however, it defines itself as an independent. It is administered by the Gas and Electricity Markets Authority (GEMA) which is comprised of executive and non-executive members and a non-executive chair. The non-executive members work in different areas such as:
– consumer and social policy
– finance and investment
– science and the environment
– European energy concerns
The independent department’s power is given for under the following:
– Competition Act 1998
– Gas Act 1986
– Enterprise Act 2002
– Utilities Act 2000
– Electricity Act 1989
Complaining Against Gas And Electricity Supplier
Prior to any probing, a complaint will be done by the energy customer. There are steps involved in making a complaint and the first one is to talk directly to the gas or electricity supplier or distribution network operator. It can be done through phone, email, or writing.
A template is provided by the Citizens Advice when making a complaint in writing.
Usually, the number of the energy provider is found on the energy bill. Meanwhile, for customers who are uncertain about who their gas carrier is, they can call the Meter Point Administration Service and simply provide their Meter Point Reference Number (MPRN). For electricity customers, they can reach their local electricity distribution company.
While making a complaint, it is important to clearly discuss what the problem is and what the customer wants the supplier to do about it. A complaint procedure will be given and customers should follow it so the suppliers can have the necessary information needed to address the issue. As for the electricity and gas suppliers, they are required to handle every concern proactively, with only 8 weeks to resolve the issue. Otherwise, the concern will be raised to another department. Resolving the problem may require the energy supplier to ask for additional information. Some may even visit homes or business premises for checking purposes, such as meter reading, to further understand the issue. The energy customer will determine whether the problem is solved or not. If not, the customer should notify the energy carrier and take the case to the Energy Ombudsman if the supplier did not resolve the issue in 8 weeks or the customer is not happy and satisfied with the response.