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EDF fined £6m for ‘misleading’ National Grid about energy production

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EDF Energy has been fined £6m by Ofgem for sending “misleading signals” to the National Grid about how much electricity its power plants could generate.

The energy regulator found that for more than two years, EDF frequently inflated the minimum amount of power that it said its West Burton B generator plant could supply.

EDF did this at times when the plant was not planning to generate energy. In many cases, this meant that the National Grid had to purchase more energy from the plant than needed, when the plant was used to balance the system, Ofgem said.

The French energy giant admitted to an “inadvertent breach” of regulations and agreed to pay £6m into Ofgem’s voluntary redress fund.

Ofgem said that the supplier fully co-operated with it throughout the review process and that it therefore decided not to open a formal investigation.

Cathryn Scott at Ofgem said: “This case further demonstrates Ofgem’s commitment to monitoring wholesale energy markets in Great Britain and ensuring their integrity on behalf of consumers.

“Ofgem’s enforcement action sends a strong signal to all energy market participants that they must submit accurate data to the ESO. If they don’t, we have the powers to intervene and we are ready to use them.”

An EDF spokeswoman said: “EDF Energy Thermal Generation (ETG) takes this issue extremely seriously and apologises for the error.

“Although the breach was inadvertent, and EDF ETG considered its approach would reduce costs for the electricity system operator, we should have done better.

“We have taken swift action to prevent any reoccurrence. We have changed our approach and ensured it is fully aligned with the clarification in Ofgem’s latest guidance and put in place new governance arrangements to ensure ongoing compliance.”

Ofgem has been ramping up its enforcement action in 2020, fining three energy suppliers £10.5m in January following a massive power outage in August last year and issuing a further £34m fine in October to seven energy suppliers who failed to stick to renewable energy targets.

The devastating economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has meant that an extra 600,000 households have fallen behind on their energy bills this year.

UK charity network Citizens Advice estimates that 2.1 million households across the UK are in arrears, an increase of 600,000 from February.

It said the size of debts is significant, with the average amount owed by those who have not come to a repayment arrangement with their supplier estimated at £760 for electricity and £605 for gas.

Alistair Cromwell, acting chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “We’re heading into the coldest months of the year and the full financial impacts of the pandemic are still to be felt. Maintaining high customer service standards is more critical than ever in order to make sure energy customers who get into difficulty can access the support they need.”

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