Competition probe for UK power

News that the UK power industry faces a competition probe has prompted warnings that investment in the sector could be hampered by fresh uncertainty.

UK energy regulator Ofgem asked the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to launch an inquiry to address widespread concern over consumer prices and links between utilities’ generation and consumer-facing operations.

The inquiry will look at the UK’s “big six” utilites – E.ON, RWE, EDF, Centrica, SSE and ScottishPower.

The UK is relying on the mainly foreign-owned companies to deliver big investments in new generation capacity and infrastructure – including big renewable energy projects.

In a move widely seen as pre-empting the inquiry, SSE yesterday announced a significant downscaling of its offshore wind ambitions as part of a raft of measures that included a consumer price freeze.

Today the CEO of Centrica – which has also gone cool on the UK offshore wind sector – warned that the uncertainty around the investigation could deter investment decisions.

But UK energy secretary Ed Davey claimed the investigation is “the right way to create long-term certainty for investment” and would put the industry on a stable and transparent footing.