As the debate on energy prices intensifies, the energy secretary Ed Davey has promised to increase competition in the energy markets by speeding up the time it takes to switch companies from five weeks to one week.
Davey also said that he wanted to go even further than this in the future, by decreasing this period to 24 hours. But Labour’s shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint said the government was “weak” on energy policy, claiming it was afraid to take on the big six, and that Davey was “letting these companies off the hook”.
The Lib Dem energy secretary denied these claims however, saying the government was tackling the energy companies with the “stick of competition”.
Flint said that a competition review, which is being suggested by the energy companies, would mean the government had given in, and that the issue would be “kicked into the long grass”.
“We don’t need another review, we need action to fix this broken market”, she said.
Flint also called for a “tough new regulator” with the power to force energy companies to cut their prices when the wholesale price falls.
Davey’s energy policies were also attacked by campaigners. Friends of the Earth’s Sophie Neuburg said, “The real solutions – massive investment in energy efficiency and a rapid switch to renewables – are conspicuous by their absence from ministers’ plans.
“By siding with the big energy firms and blocking a clean power target, Davey has shown he is more dormouse than ‘tiger’ when it comes to fighting for the environment.”
There were also concerns that the political row would put off investors in renewable energy, and despite assurances from the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) that the green levies review would not cover renewable incentives, energy minister Michael Fallon told the environmental audit committee that it would in fact include all support policies.
A spokesperson for DECC said it stood by its initial statement and refused to comment on Fallon’s remarks.