Scottish Power has become the fourth of the big six energy companies to announce upcoming price rises in consumer energy bills.
The company says it will be ramping up dual-fuel energy bills by 8.6%, with gas prices rising by 8.5% and electricity prices by 9% from December 6.
The hike represents a £113 increase in the average annual dual-fuel bill, and will affect around 2.2 million customers.
Scottish Power has said the price rises were necessary because of the rising wholesale cost of energy and the rising costs of the government’s environmental and social schemes – including so called ‘green levies’.
Neil Clitheroe, chief executive of energy retail and generation for Scottish Power, blamed costs such as wind farm payments and carbon reduction schemes.
“We unfortunately have no other option than to pass these on by increasing our prices for customers”, he said.
British Gas, SSE and Npower have each announced average winter energy bill rises of 9.2%, 8.2% and 10.4% respectively. The rest of the big six suppliers – EDF Energy and E.ON – are expected to follow suit.
Energy secretary Ed Davey has advised customers to switch suppliers to find the best deal.
“With 15 independent energy suppliers to choose from outside the big six, it’s surprising that these companies think they can keep getting away with bill hikes of this magnitude”, he said.
“As more and more people shop around for the competitive deals on the market, some of which are offered by the independents, companies like Scottish Power can no longer put their bills up in this way with no consequences.”
Price comparison website MoneySuperMarket.com said that the number of people applying for new tariffs through its services had increased by 1,556% last Tuesday, after British Gas announced its price hike. Editor-in-chief Clare Francis said that this shows customers are getting the message.
She added that this was “a clear sign that bill payers are starting to take power into their own hands to bring down the cost of their energy.”
Speaking during prime minister’s questions on Wednesday, David Cameron announced that the government will be reviewing environmental regulations in an effort to lower bills.
“We need to roll back some of the green regulations and charges that are putting up bills”, the prime minister told MPs.
However, speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said that green levies were not the main cause of higher bills.
“In fact, 60% of the increase in energy bills since 2010 have come from wholesale prices”, he added.