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npower slashes its energy prices; Cuts will save North customers an average of pounds 43.

Byline: Peter Old

THERE was good news last night as a major energy provider revealed it was cutting electricity prices. Energy giant npower is the latest firm to announce plans to slash its charges from the end of the month.

The company, which employs staff at sites in Gateshead and Peterlee says the cuts will save more than 305,000 customers in the North East an average of pounds 43. Gas prices will stay the same.

Chief executive, Kevin Miles, said: "Wholesale prices are still higher than in 2007 but we are determined to reduce prices for our electricity customers. This reduction follows our price cuts for gas pre-payment customers in December.

"Gas and electricity pre-payment customers no longer pay a premium over our standard tariffs. We will continue to keep our costs and prices under review to ensure that we remain competitive and give our customers value for money." However, consumer groups described the cut as "derisory" after huge increases last year.

Robert Hammond, energy expert at Consumer Focus, said: "Since January 2008, npower customers have had hikes of 47% for gas and 28% for electricity. npower's 8% reduction is yet another derisory cut in the cost of one fuel only, coming into effect when winter is effectively over and people are using less energy. It will do little to ease the burden for consumers bracing themselves for the biggest ever energy bills to land on their doormats.

"Consumers need to switch to make sure they are on the best deal."

npower is the last major provider to make the reduction. But while wholesale energy prices have plummeted in recent months, energy companies have only announced modest price cuts for customers.

British Gas customers saw a 10% cut in gas bills take effect from 19 February. Scottish & Southern will cut the price of electricity by 9% and gas by 4% from March 30.

Scottish Power will cut gas prices by 7.5% on average and electricity bills by 3%.

EDF Energy has announced it is cutting electricity bills by an average of 8.8% for customers in London, the South East and South West of England, as well as Wales and Scotland. While E.On has announced a 9% cut. However, both their gas tariffs will remain unchanged.

THE MIDAS TOUCH

A DRIVE to help firms tackle rising energy costs has struck it rich with pounds 15m worth of savings being identified in the North East.

The two-year Midas programme, run by Newcastle-based energy consultancy TNEI Services, has now ended - but it has earned TNEI a Green Hero award in recognition of the environmental contribution it has made.

Green Hero trophies are awarded annually to recognise companies, councils and communities which carry out projects that enhance the environment.

TNEI Services was appointed by One North East to deliver the Midas programme with a remit to cut energy bills, manage waste and water costs as well as raising awareness about resource efficiency in businesses across the region.

The programme highlighted where businesses could make pounds 15m worth of energy savings. Measures implemented so far have resulted in savings of pounds 5m and a reduction of 40,000 tonnes in carbon dioxide emissions In addition to the energy and carbon savings, the Midas programme also boosted the North East's "green" economy - with over a million pounds invested into regional consultancy services.

TNEI acted as a broker in linking service providers with clients to ensure the smooth and packaged delivery of energy and resource efficiency projects.

The Green Hero trophy follows the national and international recognition Midas received with awards from the Green Apple Charity and nominations for Environmental Excellence and carbon reduction from the edie environmental awards and the Energy Institute.

The Midas project will also feature in the next Green Book, the world's only work of reference on environmental best practice.

After receiving the award TNEI's Matthew Lumsden said: "Midas was a highly successful programme which helped hundreds of companies gain the competitive advantage and shore up their business operations in preparation for tough economic times and spiraling energy costs."

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SAVINGS npower has slashed priced but consumer groups described the move as 'derisory' after huge increases last year.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Mar 17, 2009
Words:700
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