After months of speculation, a manifesto commitment and an election, the government has finally decided to act in terms of domestic energy supply markets. The move was confirmed as one of the key announcements of Prime Minister Theresa May’s speech to the Conservative Party Conference this morning. The Prime Minister stated that the government would “always take on monopolies and vested interests when they are holding people back”, saying one of the “greatest examples in Britain today is the broken energy market.” She went on to say that the energy market punishes loyalty with higher prices and to correct this, the government will meet its manifesto commitment and publish a Draft Bill to put a price cap on energy bills, bringing an “end to rip-off energy prices once and for all.” The Draft Bill will be published next week. The speech contained nothing about the detail of intervention or their ramifications.
Whilst detail is still scarce, more information was revealed in an announcement to the markets by BEIS. On first appraisal of the language used to describe it, it appears that intention is that the bill will be, like most legislation, establishing enabling powers rather than setting out prescriptive outcomes. It will not see the government taking powers to introduce a cap directly, but provide powers to allow Ofgem – who were expected to make an announcement on actions they were going to take imminently – to go further than what may be possible under their current vires.
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