John Penrose MP demands ‘sleeping’ energy regulator pulls plug on £7.5bn power rip-off

FURIOUS MPs and former Ministers are demanding the “sleeping” energy regulator pull the plug on a £7.5billion power rip-off exposed by the Sun.

Tory and Labour MPs have joined forces to call for action against regional network companies they claim are making nearly SIX TIMES as much as domestic energy suppliers such as British Gas.

They demand regulator Ofgem reviews over-generous pricing controls that determine the levels regional networks can charge for moving power around cables and pipes because of the burden on homeowners.

Last month the Sun’s ‘Power to the People’ campaign revealed that nearly £280 of the annual dual-fuel bill goes to the networks in transmission charges – with £96 of it pure profit.

The networks’ profit margins averaged 30.4 per cent in 2016- compared with 5.7 per cent for the Big Six.

Campaigning Tory MP John Penrose last night stormed: “The regulator Ofgem has failed to stop these firms from making these inflated profits.

“They’ve been asleep the wheel, even though they’re supposed to protect consumers like you and me from being ripped off.”

He added: “They are low risk, monopoly businesses, so there’s no reason for them to be charging so much.”

His call is backed by 30 MPs including Labour’s former Shadow Energy Minister Caroline Flint, Tim Loughton, the Tory deputy chair of the Home Affairs Committee and the DUP’s Sammy Wilson.

Last year the Sun revealed the regional monopolies were on course to make £7.5 billion of excess profits between 2015 and 2023 because of the generous pricing and cost estimates set by Ofgem.

A month ago, it emerged that the bosses of the ten regional monopolies such as UK Power Networks and Northern Powergrid were being paid up to £5.9 million a year.

At the time, Ofgem exec Jonathan Brearley admitted the returns enjoyed by the networks were “very high compared to current market expectations.”

The current price controls set by Ofgem were set to run from 2015 to 2023. Ofgem has committed to reviewing whether to change them in 2021.

But the MPs said action was needed at next available opportunity – the “four year mark” in 2019. The MPs storm: “Consumers cannot wait until 2021 or 2023.

“If it is Ofgem’s view that the double-digit returns are unjustified, you should do something about it immediately.”

Ofgem chief Dermot Nolan two weeks ago revealed he wouldn’t be taking a bonus this year and apologised for failing to protect Brits from sky-high gas and electricity prices.

Theresa May last autumn vowed to cap 12 million standard or ‘default’ gas and electricity bills in a huge victory for the Sun. Ministers believe the cap will be in place by next winter.

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