U.K. Utilities ''Charge What They Can Get Away With''

Britain’s biggest utilities are charging as much “as they can get away with,” the leader of a smaller supplier said in testimony to Parliament that broke ranks with the rest of the industry.

Facing questions from lawmakers about why the cost of energy has outpaced inflation since the recession in 2008, Ovo Energy Ltd. Managing Director Stephen Fitzpatrick said he could see no reason that the biggest six utilities have boosted bills for consumers as much as they have.

“I can’t explain any of these price rises other than they are not the rises we see in the liquid wholesale market,” Fitzpatrick said at a hearing of the Energy and Climate Change Committee in the House of Commons in London today. “It looks to me that a number of energy companies are charging the maximum they can get away with. Npower is the worst offender.”

The comments fed anger within Parliament about the cost of energy, which has risen 30 percent in real terms since 2007. Lawmakers from the main parties on the panel probed executives about whether the industry should be broken up or subjected to a probe by anti-trust regulators.