Falling wholesale prices are not being reflected in energy bills

Rudd urges Big Six to cut energy bills

Energy secretary Amber Rudd has called on the Big Six energy firms to cut bills for consumers.

Rudd said that government efforts to reduce costs for consumers are "not over yet" and that while wholesale prices remain low the industry should pass the savings on.

At a Westminster lunch yesterday, Rudd told reporters that she was not going to ease up on the UK’s largest energy firms - British Gas, SSE, E.ON, EDF, npower and Scottish Power and wrote to them in June regarding their prices.

She said: "It's not over yet. I'm still pressing them. Wholesale prices have stayed low and I will continue to press them to cut those bills and keep them down and potentially, as British Gas has, to bring them down further."

She encouraged householders to switch suppliers to secure better deals for their electricity and gas and said that average annual bills had fallen by £100 in the last year.

Rudd also defended the government's controversial cuts to support for the solar industry, following the collapse of Southern Solar.

The company recently went into administration with its chief executive Howard Johns accusing ministers of ‘misguided’ policies which will ‘kill off’ the industry.

Rudd insisted that solar energy had a ‘great future’ in the UK, but she had to get the level of subsidies under control.

"I want to make sure that bill payers, who pay for the subsidy, are making the right contribution to solar and that they don't overpay."

Meanwhile, the GMB union has cautioned that energy production in the UK left little margin for demand surges which could result in widespread blackouts this winter.

Rudd insisted she was "confident but not complacent" about efforts to keep the lights on but conceded that the new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point was not going to be generating electricity by the 2023 date originally set as a target.

Pressed on when the plant would be ready, Rudd said: "EDF are going to be telling us when they expect it to start generating. It is a project which they are managing, although we are very supportive of it, so I don't have that date.

National Grid has moved to counter fears of blackouts this winter by insisting that electricity margins are "manageable". Although the margin currently stands at just 1.2 per cent, the company said it was paying mothballed power stations to remain in standby to meet demand if necessary.

Cordi O'Hara, director of National Grid’s UK market operations said: "Electricity margins are manageable throughout the winter period and we believe we have the right tools in place to manage the system.

"This includes using the 2.4 gigawatt of additional balancing services that we have ready in place for times of highest demand.”

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