"I won"t let gas firms hike prices": Energy Minister warns power chiefs they should not uses cold snap as excuse to increase fuel bills

'I won't let gas firms hike prices': Energy Minister warns power chiefs they should not uses cold snap as excuse to increase fuel bills

By
Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED:

01:01 GMT, 24 March 2013

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UPDATED:

12:04 GMT, 24 March 2013

Energy Minister John Hayes warned power chiefs should not use the cold snap and shortage of gas reserves as an excuse to increase fuel bills

Energy Minister John Hayes warned power chiefs should not use the cold snap and shortage of gas reserves as an excuse to increase fuel bills

'Ruthless' power chiefs should not use the cold snap and shortage of gas reserves as an excuse to increase fuel bills, the Energy Minister warned last night.

John Hayes has told power firms he will not allow them to argue they need to increase prices as a result of obtaining extra gas supplies at short notice.

In an attempt to calm fears of gas rationing, he said last night: 'There is no need to panic; the lights will not go out on my watch.

'Their ruthlessness is matched by my
zeal in defence of the consumer. I am a tough cookie and I will not take
any nonsense from anyone.'

Mr Hayes also dismissed claims that
Britain has only 36 hours of gas left, revealing he has told National
Grid chiefs to increase the flow of gas from the North Sea and Norway to
ensure no one is cut off.

'The idea that households or
businesses are going to face rationing as a result of the cold weather
is fanciful,' he added. 'We have plenty of God-given gas reserves in the
North Sea.

'Energy security is important but
pricing is absolutely fundamental too. I would certainly not expect
energy companies to use the cold snap to try to justify any price
hikes.'

Mr Hayes's comments came as gas supply
firms urged the Government to deal with the country's chronic lack of
storage facilities.

A
senior gas industry source said: 'If the problems of the past few days
have focused minds on the issue of storage, then that would be no bad
thing.

'We have discussed the problem of gas storage with the Government repeatedly and made numerous proposals.

'The security of gas storage is a matter for the Government. It must decide whether it should be funded by the taxpayer or the bill-payer.'

Woman contemplating the rising energy prices and bills in the UK as she reads her electricity meter

Woman contemplating the rising energy prices and bills in the UK as she reads her electricity meter