Complaints from British industrialists that they pay too much for their electricity are backed up by a new survey from influential analysts. National Utility Services, which monitors utility prices for major companies, claims that large electricity consumers in Britain suffered the highest percentage price increase (8.6%) the country has known in seven years. To add insult to injury, the rise was higher than in any other major Western country.
The survey was based on the prices typically paid by large industrial and commercial users, who use a one megawatt supply. Britain's 8.6% increase was well above that of the other countries, with Italy - on 5.7% - a distant second. In addition, the rise was over twice the then inflation rate of 4%.
Since these large suppliers can negotiate individual contracts for electricity supply with generators or the regional electricity companies, it could be argued that they should be far tougher in their negotiations in future to keep prices in check.
Industry can take some comfort though from the fact that - despite the price rises - British prices still lag behind those of Germany and Italy by a margin of 38 and 40% respectively.
One consolation for the large users is that the rise was less than the 20% predicted by industry sources.