Thursday, 7 August 2008

Fuel poverty news

With fuel poverty becoming an increasingly serious problem in the UK, news today that we could be subsidising French energy consumers from now on. Energy company EDF, which supplies customers in both countries, has been ordered to cap price rises in France - increases will be limited to 2% for electricity and 5% for gas. Commentators are suggesting that if bulk energy prices continue to rise, EDF may be forced to recover from British consumers any revenue shortfall in France. However EDF argues that the two operations are entirely separate and the 11% price advantage French customers already enjoy is due to the fact that 80% of electricity produced there is nuclear. France also has up to four times the amount of gas storage as Britain, allowing it to buy gas in bulk at low prices during the summer for use during high winter demand.

Whilst we should all be encouraged to reduce our energy consumption, it's a basic neccessity of life. Many MPs feel that energy prices should not be left to market forces and highlighted the lack of controls in Britain’s liberalised energy market in a parliamentary report last month. Some are calling for the UK to adopt the French government's approach and restrict energy price rises to the inflation rate. Certainly this would help vulnerable households which this winter could find themselves unable to afford heat and light.

For expert advice on how to find the cheapest energy providers, sign up to Martin Lewis' excellent - regular alerts will advise you on when and how to act to cut your energy bills. Tips on how to cut energy consumption are available from the Energy Saving Trust. And if you're committed to cutting your carbon, compares tariffs from renewable energy suppliers which can save an average of 2 tonnes of CO2 per household per year.

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