New rules to help consumers pick energy supplier
LONDON (Reuters) - Households and small business will be given more information and opportunity to switch power and gas suppliers, energy regulator Ofgem said on Monday.
New regulations will include tougher rules on doorstep and telephone selling, and suppliers will have to provide clearer information on energy bills, in addition to an annual statement to help customers compare tariffs.
The threshold debt will also be doubled on pre-payment meters, to allow low-income consumer to switch suppliers at 200 pounds debt instead of 100 pounds.
Utilities' treatment of customers will be judged on a new Ofgem standard of conduct, and the energy companies will have to publish revenue, cost, and profit from the production and supply of electricity and gas.
"As each measure comes into play, consumers -- including low-income households and small businesses -- will be armed with better information and protection," Ofgem senior partner, Andrew Wright, said.
"That will give them more muscle in the market to put a greater competitive squeeze on the suppliers."
Some measures, such as changes to rules for selling to customers face-to-face, will coming into force as early as Wednesday, while other changes coming into effect throughout 2010.
For small and medium sized companies, Ofgem intends to ban rolling contracts, meaning suppliers will have to inform businesses before renewing energy supply deals.
The new regulations are aimed at remedying flaws found it Ofgem's recent Energy Supply Probe, which found that customers were missing out the cost benefits of changing utilities.
(Reporting by Kwok W. Wan)
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