Big users lose out in the power game

The bullish claim this week by John Roberts, President of the Electricity Association, that a 3% price fall in April will herald a downward trend, as competition reaches all 26 million domestic and small business consumers by the end of June, will cut little ice with the largest industrial users some of whose annual bills […]

The bullish claim this week by John Roberts, President of the Electricity Association, that a 3% price fall in April will herald a downward trend, as competition reaches all 26 million domestic and small business consumers by the end of June, will cut little ice with the largest industrial users some of whose annual bills run into millions of pounds.

At its first quarterly get-together for 1999 this week, the Major Energy Users’ Council (MEUC) heard several of its members quote the figure of 3% but as a rise in prices offered by suppliers for 12-month contracts to run from April 1.

Big users’ complaints often fall on unsympathetic ears, as they were subsidised at every one else’s expense in the good old days of the CEGB’s bulk supply tariff. But the reverse is now the case, as ensuring that even a two-light-bulb household can shop around for power seems to have become the electricity industry’s overriding imperative.

This does not make sense with the economy heading into a downturn. Higher input costs will not help MEUC members to keep their competitive edge in tighter markets. And, as large employers, their misery will surely spread to the wider community.