Labour Party Manifesto Reiterates Pledge to Freeze Energy Bills

The U.K. opposition Labour Party reiterated a pledge to freeze energy bills until 2017 and force utilities to pass on falling energy costs to consumers if it wins power in a May 7 general election.

“Lack of competition and transparency has allowed the large energy companies to get away with increasing bills when wholesale prices rise, but not cutting them when they fall,” the party said in its election manifesto announced by leader Ed Miliband in Manchester, northwest England, on Monday.

The party vowed to separate the power generation and supply businesses of the so-called Big Six energy companies to create a more transparent market, according to the manifesto. Labour also plans to set up a new energy watchdog with powers to strip companies of their licenses “if they repeatedly harm the interests of consumers,” it said.

The Big Six are: Centrica Plc, SSE Plc, Electricite de France SA, RWE AG, Iberdrola SA and EON SE. They’re subject to an antitrust probe by the Competition and Markets Authority that may ultimately split them into retail and generation businesses. The authority is due to report by the end of the year.

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