Centrica Questions U.K. Government's Energy Price Cap Figures

By FeaturesDow Jones Newswires

Centrica PLC (CNA.LN) has claimed that the U.K. government's proposed price cap on energy could force suppliers into cutting investment and damage the roll-out of smart meters.

In written evidence to parliament, published on Monday, the owner of British Gas said it was "concerned" about the government's claim that a price cap will remove 100 pounds ($133.82) from the average customer's bill.

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Centrica said it posts an average profit per customer of GBP50 and the cap would therefore assume suppliers recorded no profit.

The company said it believes the case for the price cap has been built on the Competition and Market Authority's (CMA) estimate that customers were losing out on GBP1.40 billion in average on bills between 2012 and 2015--a figure that Centrica said has been "widely discredited" by former regulators and economists.

Centrica also said the price cap risks lowering customer engagement in having a smart meter installed, and could leave suppliers unable to recover the costs of the program.

The company said it opposes the introduction of a cap and proposes instead the phasing out of standard variable tariffs--more expensive pricing plans that are triggered when introductory fixed deals end.

Centrica also said that if a cap is introduced, it should be subject to appeal to the CMA, and be kept under constant review.

Shares are down 2.30 pence, or 1.6%, at 141.80 pence at 1422 GMT.

Write to Adam Clark at adam.clark@dowjones.com; @AdamDowJones

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 11, 2017 09:46 ET (14:46 GMT)