Higher gas and electricity prices put consumers' average bills at more than £1,000 yesterday after Scottish and Southern Energy became the last of the big six utility providers to increase its tariff.
The utility said it would increase domestic power prices by an average of 14.2 per cent and gas by 15.8 per cent from April 1 for existing customers although new ones will pay the increased rates immediately.
They take the average quarterly bill for SSE dual fuel customers up £131 to £1,006.
But oil prices have deepened their plunge on fears that global energy consumption could contract if the US slipped into a recession. Oil has risen six per cent since the start of the year. But investors nervous about the economy are cashing in on recent record prices in the commodity and energy sectors, shifting money to safe-haven US government bonds.
The cost of light, sweet crude for May delivery dipped as low as $98.65 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange before settling around the $100 mark.
The falls are put down to a reassessment and a rationalisation of ongoing concerns over the US economy which has triggered some selling in the oil sector.
As electricity and gas prices go in the opposite direction, Scott Byrom, utilities manager at price comparison web site moneysupermarket.com. said: "It means the average standard quarterly cash or cheque tariff for medium users of gas and electricity will be over £1,000 with all of the big six energy giants."
Despite the rises, SSE remains one of the cheapest suppliers and has the most competitive dual fuel tariff, if only by an average of £1.
SSE is the last of the big six suppliers to announce price hikes this year, blaming soaring wholesale energy increases. Npower, owned by Germany's RWE was the first major household energy supplier in Britain to announce double-digit price increases, at the start of January, followed by French-owned EDF Energy, British Gas, Scottish Power and E.on.
SSE said in mid-January it would not raise prices until at least March 30.
"As the last UK energy supplier to put up its prices this year, SSE has missed out on around £400 million in revenue, to the benefit of its eight million customers who have each saved around £50 this winter," said Mark Todd, a director of energyhelpline.com.
"It has not been all bad news for the supplier: as the company with the cheapest standard energy tariffs for the last two months, it has picked up tens of thousands customers who have chosen to switch."
But further across-the-board increases could be in the pipeline this year.
Consumers are being warned to expect more price rise misery as energy companies may be forced to make a second round of price rises. The predicted jump – of up to ten per cent or £105 by the end of the year – comes as a result of the surging cost of gas on the forward market and will pile yet more pressure onto households.
The prospect of higher prices will rankle with customers. Straight after having increased energy bills by an estimated £1.5 billion for UK households, consumers saw a procession of big profit announcements from the energy companies and British Gas alone made £571 million – a sixfold increase on the previous year. As the last UK energy supplier to put up its prices this year, SSE has missed out on around £400 million in revenue Mark Todd, a director of energyhelpline.com
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