15 March 2001
Introducing the much-awaited and controversial New Electricity Trading Arrangements (Neta) would slice between 3 to 5 per cent off average electricity prices by July, according to experts.
Stephen Byers, trade and industry secretary, is to tell Parliament whether Neta is to be launched on 27 March. The regime, to replace the present one-price "pool" system where suppliers negotiate individual contracts with customers, has already been postponed twice.
However, analysts fear another delay could cause price rises. Electricity buyers report prices have risen by up to 10 per cent since Neta's last postponement in October.
Ian Dobson, chairman of the CIPS energy committee, said: "Prices are around 10 per cent up on the last round and the fear is that they could continue to rise if there is another delay."
Despite claims by market regulator Ofgem that all Neta's pre-launch tests have gone to plan, senior electricity company executives have lobbied the energy minister Peter Hain for further postponement.