Larry Mantell, UK glass procurement director, Ardagh Group
Yes. Your readers would not be surprised to learn that this is a complicated issue with many ethical and commercial undertones. From our experience over the past few years we can find no evidence to show that it is a fair market. It’s hard to say whether this is deliberate or coincidental on behalf of suppliers. They trade to maximise profits and irrespective of market forces at any given time, the lack of transparency means that often we do not know whether we are being charged a fair price or not.
Jeremy Nicholson, director, Energy Intensive Users Group
Yes. A domestic energy market dominated by six large, vertically integrated suppliers is bad for competition, as the energy regulator Ofgem now seems to have recognised. The situation is actually worse for industrial energy users like paper and glass manufacturers, many of whom report as few as two or three suppliers interested in tendering for their business. Suppliers deserve their share of the blame, but so too does Ofgem for allowing the situation to arise. Unfortunately, government is making a bad situation worse.
Philip Watkins, president, British Plastics Federation
Yes. The shocking increases in energy prices have to be questioned. Regulation doesn’t seem to work on the six major energy suppliers who seem to hold our country to ransom with their high prices and reluctance to invest in new capacity. Energy prices are not the only challenge we face. Other challenges include low consumer confidence and continuing financial turmoil in the Eurozone and the USA. We can with just cause be grateful at this time that Britain is not in the Eurozone but their unceasing turmoil has a direct effect on all our companies.
David Workman, director general, CPI
Yes. We have an energy market which is “liberated” but over recent years we have witnessed huge volatility in pricing for both gas and electricity and an inability to gain benefit from continental style contracts. Firms buy energy in a variety of different ways, and over different contractual periods, so getting a true picture of what is actually going on is difficult. Some of our members have seen gas prices rise by 60% over the last year. The huge cost of meeting our renewables target will, in part, need to be met through investment by the same energy suppliers.