The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands)

Pay more for power

Threat of bills go­ing up

- BY HOLLY WIL­LIAMS Business · RWE npower · United Kingdom · Shanghai Stock Exchange

The merger of energy giants npower and SSE could re­duce com­pe­ti­tion and lead to higher prices for some house­holds, ac­cord­ing to Bri­tain’s com­pe­ti­tion watchdog.

The Com­pe­ti­tion and Mar­kets Authority (CMA) said it would re­fer the deal for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion un­less the two “Big Six” energy providers can ad­dress its con­cerns.

Its ini­tial in­quiry found the re­duc­tion in the num­ber of large play­ers in the UK energy mar­ket caused by the merger could have an im­pact on com­pe­ti­tion and leave some cus­tomers worse off.

Rachel Mere­lie, se­nior di­rec­tor at the CMA, said: “We know that com­pe­ti­tion in the energy mar­ket does not work as well as it might. How­ever, com­pe­ti­tion be­tween energy com­pa­nies gives them a rea­son to keep prices down.

“We have found that the pro­posed merger be­tween SSE Re­tail and npower could re­duce this com­pe­ti­tion, and so lead to higher prices for some cus­tomers.”

She said the two firms have un­til May 3 to of­fer mea­sures to ad­dress the CMA’s find­ings.

Alis­tair Phillips-Davies, chief ex­ec­u­tive of SSE, said: “We re­main con­fi­dent that the pro­posed merger will de­liver ben­e­fits for cus­tomers and for the energy mar­ket as a whole and that we will be able to demon­strate this to the CMA in due course.”

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