Business

SSE to cut gas prices by 4.1%

  • 26 January 2015
  • From the section Business
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Energy company SSE has said it will cut its domestic gas prices by 4.1% from 30 April, a move which will save the average customer household £28 a year.

SSE is now the fifth of the "big six" energy firms to have reduced gas prices, following cuts from E.On, British Gas, Scottish Power and Npower.

EDF is the only one of the big six yet to announce price cuts.

Wholesale gas prices have fallen sharply in recent months following the recent big drop in oil prices.

SSE also said it would extend by at least six months its previous guarantee not to increase its gas and electricity prices, until July 2016.

Steve Forbes, SSE's director of GB Domestic, said: "We were the only supplier to freeze prices and we promised we would cut them if we could; now we're delivering on that promise with an average £28 reduction in gas bills."

As well as SSE, the company trades under brands such as Scottish Hydro, Southern Electric and Swalec.

The company, which has 8.7 million electricity and gas customers, said its cut would benefit about three million customers who currently pay on variable dual-fuel and gas-only tariffs.

Explaining why the forthcoming price reduction would not be larger, the firm said that wholesale energy costs now made up "less than half of the typical household energy bill".

"There are significant other costs within energy bills, including those relating to government-sponsored environmental and social policies and the roll-out of smart meters."

Major energy suppliers' price changes
Supplier Change Date of change
E.On Gas: down 3.5% 13 January
British Gas Gas: down 5% 27 February
Scottish Power Gas: down 4.8% 20 February
Npower Gas: down 5.1% 16 February
SSE Gas: down 4.1% 30 April

Filtering through

In common with other big suppliers, SSE is not cutting its electricity prices.

In the past, all the UK's energy suppliers have argued when putting up electricity prices that they were intimately linked to rising wholesale gas prices.

But on Monday, SSE said: "They are very different with different underlying costs."

Explaining why the impending cut in gas prices was being delayed until the end of April, the firm said this reflected the fact that it had bought gas in the wholesale markets as much as two years ago, in order to make good on last year's promise to freeze its gas and electricity prices.

"It takes longer for wholesale costs to filter through than other products like petrol as we buy much further in advance to smooth out the rise and falls in wholesale prices," SSE said.

However, James Padmore of price comparison service Comparethemarket.com said: "If customers of British Gas and Scottish Power thought that delaying price cuts until February was unfair, I suspect those households with SSE will be pretty unimpressed by this announcement."

The UK's energy suppliers have been under intense pressure from politicians and consumer groups to respond more quickly to the recent large fall in oil prices and wholesale gas prices.

The industry is widely perceived as being quick to put prices up when costs rise, but very slow to reduce them when costs fall.

For that reason, the energy industry is undergoing a full scale inquiry from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) into the way it operates.

The CMA inquiry is expected to report its provisional findings in May or June.

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