Mandelson Warns Miliband Over Plan to Cap U.K. Energy Bills

Peter Mandelson, who was business secretary for the U.K. Labour Party until it lost power in 2010, warned leader Ed Miliband over his plan to freeze energy bills.

Miliband said this week he wanted to take on “predator” utility companies, which he accused of exploiting consumers. He pledged that energy suppliers will be prevented by law from increasing prices until 2017 if Labour wins the May 2015 general election.

“Perceptions of Labour policy are in danger of being taken backwards,” Mandelson told the Guardian newspaper. “I tried to move on from the conventional choice in industrial policy between state control and laissez-faire.”

Energy companies hit back against the proposed price cap, saying that a significant portion of rising bills is the result of requirements imposed by government that they buy power from green sources.

Centrica Plc (CNA), the largest supplier of energy to homes, has lost more than 7 percent of its value since Miliband made his announcement on Sept. 24. That’s the third-biggest decline among companies in the FTSE 350 Index.

To contact the reporters on this story: Robert Hutton in Brighton, England at rhutton1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net

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