North Wales MS and Chair of the Senedd’s Cross Party Group on Fuel Poverty and Energy Efficiency, Mark Isherwood, has questioned the First Minister today over the action he is taking to address the soaring electricity Standing Charges in North Wales.
Speaking in today’s meeting of the Welsh Parliament, Mr Isherwood said North Wales and Mersey continue to have the highest average costs in Great Britain and asked Mark Drakeford what discussions he has had with the energy regulator Ofgem regarding this.
“Although we welcome the commitment by the UK Government to freeze the level of the Energy Price Guarantee from 1st April this year, Ofgem's announcement that the maximum amount Energy Suppliers can charge for each unit of energy would go down again from this month, including a reduction in the cost for people using a Prepayment Meter, and that the difference between price cap levels for a Prepayment Meter and for Direct Debit will be covered by the UK Government through the Energy Price Guarantee until the end of March next year, energy standing charges are now at record highs and there is a huge regional divide, with North Wales and Mersey continuing to have the highest average costs in Great Britain, more than £380 a year even before using a single unit of energy, compared to the lowest, in London, at £299.
“What discussions have you therefore had with the Energy Regulator, Ofgem, given the statement in the March report on standing charges, produced by Ideal Economics and commissioned by National Energy Action, that, quote, ‘multiple decisions taken by the energy generator, Ofgem, have led to standing charges soaring’?”
The First Minister replied:
“I can assure the Member that I have met the regulator myself, that the Minister meets with them regularly. We have reported on the floor of the Senedd that we were not satisfied with Ofgem's original response to the crisis facing prepayment meter customers; we're glad that they have now made their code mandatory, rather than advisory, but there is certainly more that the regulator can and should do in the area of standing charges, as well as the treatment of prepayment meter customers more generally, and the Minister, as I said, will be meeting the Minister as soon as the Minister is available in order to reinforce that case.”