The announcement comes amidst rumours that the big six – British Gas, E.ON, EDF, npower, Scottish Power and SSE – are poised to hike energy rates by up to 10% in the near future
Although the big six are expected to blame any increase on the cost of government schemes and distribution charges, First Utility says it is “taking a stand for consumers by demonstrating that prices do not need to rise in the cold.”
The guarantee means First Utility customers on a variable tariff will not see an increase in their standing charge or unit rates until after winter.
‘We encourage the big six to follow our lead’
Speaking on the news, Ian McCaig, CEO of First Utility said: “The rising cost of energy affects us all and many consumers will be worried about how it will impact their bills this winter. First Utility is genuinely focused on reducing energy costs for consumers and our promise to hold down prices until after the winter lessens the worry about heating their homes during the coldest months of the year.”
“Our promise will protect families from feeling the brunt of energy cost increases during the coldest months. As the largest UK independent, we believe we have a responsibility to loosen the hold the Big Six has on the UK energy market for the benefit of the hard pressed consumers and our winter price hold supports this ambition. We encourage the big six to follow our lead and guarantee peace of mind for worried customers this winter.”
‘Impact is fairly limited’
Ann Robinson, director of consumer policy at uSwitch, said: “First Utility is a small supplier, but making some big waves in the market. While the big six appear to be squaring up for price hikes, this relative newcomer is throwing down a gauntlet by declaring a price freeze.
“Whether First Utility’s stance will be enough to stop the big six in their tracks remains to be seen – will it be enough to raise some important questions and make larger rivals stay their hand for just a short while more?
“However, while the move is good news, the impact is fairly limited as the big six still account for around 98% of domestic customers. While applauding First Utility’s stance I would still urge all consumers to look to protect themselves, as there are some highly competitive fixed price tariffs on the market that will guarantee prices up to March 2017.”