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BREAKING NEWS

SSE becomes last of UK's 'big six' to announce energy price rises

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LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's SSE will raise its standard variable energy prices by around 10 percent from April 1, it said on Thursday, becoming the last of the country's 'big six' suppliers to announce a rise in line with regulator Ofgem's price cap.

Ofgem was told by parliament last year to set a limit after lawmakers said customers were being overcharged for electricity and gas. Prime Minister Theresa May had called the tariffs a "rip-off".

The regulator said earlier this month that the cap would rise by 10.3 percent from April to reflect higher costs for energy suppliers such as wholesale prices, which it said were 17 percent higher than during the last cap period.

"We regret having to raise prices but with wholesale costs having steadily increased, as shown by Ofgem's calculations, we need to pass these on in our prices," Tony Keeling, SSE's chief operating officer and co-head of retail said in a statement.

A standard dual fuel bill for gas and electricity will rise by £117 a year for average consumption, to £1,254 a year, SSE said.

Britain's other big six energy suppliers - Centrica's British Gas, Iberdrola's Scottish Power, Innogy's npower, E.ON's E.ON UK and EDF's EDF Energy - have all announced similar 10 percent rises from April.

Some smaller, independent energy suppliers have said prices should not rise. Some of them have been able to cut consumer prices by relying on app-based technology and other steps to reduce costs.

Challenger brand Bulb, which has around 870,000 customers, accused the big six of squeezing every last penny they can out of their customers.

"The price cap should be a limit, not a target. We won’t be putting up our prices when the new cap level is introduced," Hayden Wood, Bulb co-founder and CEO, said in an emailed statement.

(Reporting by Susanna Twidale; editing by Jason Neely and Susan Fenton)

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