Co-op surprises with new energy price shock

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If you're a Co-op energy customer, prepare to pay more. Co-operative Energy - it has around a quarter million customers - has hiked its standard retail electricity price tariff by 5.6%, adding an extra £27 a year or so to the average bill.

The Co-op has pinned the blame on this rise firmly on the Government. Why? %VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%

Environment pressure?

The Co-op claims the price bump is down to government imposed 'green' costs. But when AOL Money checked with the Co-op press office, an officer admitted no numbers had been shared internally with them.

"They haven't shared them. They haven't identified what those costs are to me," he said. The Co-op followed this up with an email.

"The increase," it said, "which equates to an extra £2.21 per month for the average electricity customer, is due to the need to finally pass on energy industry regulated costs including Energy Company Obligation (ECO), Renewable Energy and Feed-In Tariffs."

Sub £1,000 tariffs

Plus increases in distribution and transmission costs it claims. But still no figures given. The upped costs are a blow to customers - specifically those on the Pioneer Variable tariff - who signed up to the Co-op believing the embattled Co-op, trading on much-vaunted ethical credentials, would sustain competitive deals against The Big Six.

The latest rise means the average annual cost for those paying by cash or cheque will climb to almost £1,240, predicts MoneySuperMarket.com. In contrast, Ovo and First Utility have announced tariffs below the £1,000-a-year level (see table below).

Kevin Pratt, energy editor at MoneySuperMarket.com says the Co-op "has given up its status of being cheaper than the Big Six, and now features further down the energy tariff table."

Pressure

"The news," he goes on, "also comes at a time when many fixed rate deals are coming to an end - so it's a stark reminder for customers to switch providers."

However the Co-op Group is under enormous pressure to hike margins (though it hiked gas and electricity prices by 4.5% in October). Its Group General Manager, Ramsay Dunning, insists the new price rises are fair.

"We pledged to offer fair pricing and even after this increase we will still be competitively priced against the Big Six's standard tariffs. We are not increasing prices to reward financial investors. We are simply no longer able to absorb these government-imposed costs."

MoneySuperMarket.com energy tariff alternatives to the Co-op

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