EDF 'last' to cut energy prices
EDF today became the last of the Big Six energy suppliers to cut gas prices in the wake of falling wholesale costs as it said it would cut tariffs by 1.3%.
The French-owned firm said the cut would take effect from February 11 and would benefit around one million customers.
It is the smallest reduction of any of those announced recently by the Big Six firms that dominate UK gas and electricity supply and will shave just £9 off annual bills.
But the firm said its new standard dual fuel price of £1,155 a year made it cheaper than all but one of its major rivals.
EDF said the cut was linked to the recent fall in wholesale prices but said that the vast majority of gas it had purchased for customers had been bought well in advance.
"This, and the low standard prices already offered by EDF Energy, has limited the size of today's reduction," the company said.
The firm said its announcement today followed a series of cuts to its fixed price deals - which are taken by 1.5 million of its customers.
Beatrice Bigois, managing director of customers, said: "Today's price cut means our standard tariffs will continue to be among the most competitive in the market."
Chief executive Vincent de Rivaz said: "We continue to look for ways to bear down on costs for customers and will offer more help to the most vulnerable, for example encouraging them to switch to fixed tariffs.
"If wholesale gas prices create cost reductions which allow further price cuts these will be passed to customers as soon as possible."
EDF supplies 3.7 million customers. Those who will not benefit from today's cut are those on fixed tariffs and those it supplies with electricity only.
Today's announcement comes after E.ON, British Gas, Scottish Power, npower and SSE also all said they were cutting gas prices.
But the scale of the cuts have been criticised by consumer groups.
All have fallen well short of industry estimates suggesting bills could be reduced by £136 a year if suppliers were to pass on the full drop in wholesale prices.
Energy Secretary Ed Davey said: "People want to see bigger savings now and energy companies need to up their game if they want their customers to stick around.
"If people aren't satisfied, now is the time to shop around for a better deal, switch suppliers and save."
Energy Minister Matthew Hancock said: "It's very encouraging that all major suppliers are now passing on savings from lower global gas prices.
"Of course I will continue to meet with the big firms to make sure that hardworking households are getting a fair deal.
"This case is by no means closed and we will be watching the global gas markets very closely, expecting to see any further savings passed on."
Energy firms are facing uncertainty ahead of the general election, with Labour pledging to impose a price freeze.
Industry experts believe firms may be reluctant to make deeper price cuts for fear they will be locked into them if Labour win the election and cap tariffs.
Their announcements come after Chancellor George Osborne launched an investigation into whether key sectors, such as energy firms, were passing on the costs of falling wholesale prices to consumers.
Labour proposed giving Ofgem new powers to force suppliers to do so.
The sector is also in the midst of an in-depth investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority which could result in bigger players such as British Gas being broken up.
Shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint said: "Given wholesale gas prices have fallen by at least 20%, a measly price cut of just 1.3% is yet more evidence of why we need a tough new regulator with the power to ensure that energy companies pass on the full savings from falls in wholesale costs to all consumers, as Labour has proposed."
Price comparison website Moneysupermarket described EDF's cut as "far too little and far too late".
The site's energy expert Stephen Murray said: "It was inevitable that we would see the final of the 'big six' cut its prices this week and this is truly the most underwhelming of the lot."
Mark Todd of energyhelpline.com said: "It's a price cut so small you'd probably need a microscope to see it. Consumers will struggle to notice it in their next energy bills."