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The hologram of electricity competition

Labour
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A key industry self-regulator has pointed to delays of up to six months for customers trying to change electricity retailers and says that the delays have the potential to become an election issue.

Labour's energy spokesperson, Pete Hodgson, released a statement from Richard Rowley, chair of the Metering and Reconciliation Information Agreement (MARIA) Governance Board, who said that the "delays are unacceptable as they form barriers to competition and are hindering customers who wish to change retailer".

Mr Hodgson said that the statement showed the electricity reforms remained a shambles.

"We had hopes that competition would kick in but in the case of domestic consumers we were always concerned that anti-competitive practices could get in the way. That is why Labour tried to force the Government's hand last year to regulate against such practices, but Energy Minister Max Bradford decided he knew best.

"Now we have industry confirmation that the reforms remain a mess. The MARIA Board has endorsed Labour's repeated claims that consumers are being charged a disconnection fee and that the incumbent retailers are dragging their feet when it comes to the paper work of the final meter readings. This will particularly apply to domestic consumers.

"That is why Labour has specifically listed anti-competitive practices in its forthcoming review of the industry. We give fair notice, again, that such practices will be regulated against if they are found to still be in vogue. The idea that holding forums to improve compliance is a joke. Yet in the absence of a regulatory framework that is all the MARIA Board is able to offer."

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