The cost of electric power is lining up to become a major political issue in the U.K. as British Prime Minister David Cameron is vowing to lower prices by encouraging competition in the British energy market, which is controlled mostly by a handful of companies.
The “big six” who control most of the U.K.’s retail energy market are SSE, Centrica, RWE npower, Iberdrola, E.On and EDF. According to reports, several energy companies have raised prices recently and utility bills are rising faster than average wages.
RWE npower raised electricity bills by an average of more than 10 percent. Centrica’s bills have risen more than 9 percent, according to reports.
Member of Parliament Ed Miliband, leader of the opposition Labour Party, floated the idea of freezing energy bills for 20 months.
Cameron said the Labour plan is unfeasible and a “con,” but added that energy bills are currently “unacceptable.”
Elections in Britain are scheduled for 2015, and Labour is leading in most opinion polls.
Cameron also said the U.K. government should consider rolling back environmental regulations and fees meant to help the country meet decarbonization goals. Such rollbacks could be difficult for Cameron to sell to his coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats, who traditionally advocate for environmental issues.
Labour, in turn, said Cameron is out of touch with the tough economic choices ordinary Britons are facing – a choice they said is between “heating and eating.”
Environmental taxes and related “green” charges currently average about $1,900 per year per average British household, according to reports.