EDF raises gas and electricity prices by 11%

EDF is fifth of the ‘big six’ providers to announce a price rise – the highest of all the firms so far

EDF Energy has announced price rises of almost 11% for its 3 million gas and electricity customers that will come into effect just before Christmas.

The 10.8% average rise, which will be introduced on 7 December, is the highest imposed by any energy company this year, and follows announcements from British Gas, npower, Scottish Power and SSE in the past few weeks. It also comes at the end of the Big Energy Saving Week, a national initiative designed to educate people about how to cut energy bills.

The company blamed the price rise on a combination of “significant extra costs in the use of gas and electricity networks, mandatory energy efficiency and social schemes, plus the rising price of wholesale energy.”

“We know customers will not welcome this news and do not want to see prices going up,” said Martin Lawrence, managing director of energy sourcing and customer supply. “Our new prices will, however, be cheaper on average than those of all the other major suppliers which have announced standard price rises so far this autumn.”

On 15 October Scottish Power raised its prices by up to 8.7% following rises of 9% by npower and 6% by British Gas the previous week. SSE put up its prices by 9% in August.

Of the “big six” firms, only E.ON has yet to increase prices, although it is widely expected to do so shortly. The company has promised a price freeze until 2013 so any changes wouldn’t happen until then.

Ann Robinson, director of consumer policy at uSwitch.com, said the price rise is “the final hammer blow” for energy customers this side of Christmas. “Consumers now face a winter of rationing their energy usage – many will be forced to turn their heating down or off for fear of the impact of these hikes,” she said.

Clare Francis, consumer finance expert at moneysupermarket.com, said: “Customers need to keep on their toes to try and beat rising bills. The longer, colder nights are drawing in, encouraging people to crank up the thermostat. Any customers languishing on their provider’s standard tariff should act now to ensure they switch on to the best deal.”

Downing Street described the latest price rises as “very disappointing”. A Number 10 spokeswoman said: “It is up to energy suppliers to explain their prices to their customers. While we can’t control world energy prices, we have been working very closely with the energy companies to make it easier for people to switch to find cheaper deals.

“We want to ensure customers get the lowest tariffs. That is why we are going to use the law to help people get the best deals.”

Citizen’s Advice issued research earlier this week that showed many people are living in colder homes than they would like: 62% don’t have the heating on as much as previously, and 18% are not using some rooms in their home in a bid to cut their bills. It is using Big Energy Saving Week to encourage people to switch provider.

Tomorrow, London pensioners will descend on the Westfield Stratford shopping centre in the east of the capital to protest against fuel poverty.

Elizabeth Ziga of Fuel Poverty Action, the group that has organised the protest, said: “‘People are fed up with our energy being produced to line the pockets of the ‘big six’ while we’re left to suffer mammoth fuel bills and escalating climate change. Saturday’s protest, led by pensioners, will be the first of many. Expect a winter of resistance.”

Lisa Bachelor

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