May 11, 2017 / 11:13 AM / 8 months ago

France's Engie launches UK home energy business

LONDON (Reuters) - French utility Engie (ENGIE.PA) is challenging Britain’s big six energy providers by launching a new home energy business that will automatically put customers on the cheapest tariffs at the end of fixed deals.

The move comes as Britain’s energy suppliers are under scrutiny after British Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday pledged to cap household energy prices if she is re-elected on June 8. Five of the country’s main energy suppliers have raised prices this year.

Engie said it would offer a rollover promise, which commits to switch customers to the cheapest tariff available once fixed term contracts run out.

“Our Rate Rollover Promise takes the onus away from the customer to switch tariff to get a better deal,” Paul Rawson, CEO of energy solutions at Engie UK said in a statement on Thursday.

An investigation by Britain’s competition watchdog in 2016 said households had overpaid 1.4 billion pounds a year in the previous three years due to uncompetitive standard tariffs, which around 70 percent of customers are on, and which become a default tariff once fixed price contracts end.

Engie said launching a home energy business in Britain is a natural extension of its existing operations.

    Engie already supplies electricity and gas to industrial and commercial customers in Britain and operates gas, coal and renewable power plants in the country which make up around 6 percent of Britain’s electricity generation capacity.

    Britain’s big six energy providers are Centrica (CNA.L), SSE (SSE.L), Scottish Power (IBE.MC), Npower (IGY.DE), E.ON (EONGn.DE) and EDF Energy (EDF.PA).

    Reporting By Susanna Twidale Editing by Jeremy Gaunt.

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