* SSE has 91 pct of customers on standard tariff
* Energy companies should not penalise loyalty - energy min
* Big Six SVTs around 132 pounds more expensive than
* Centrica most exposed to SVT switching - Jefferies
* Customer switching from small supplier to Big Six rises
(Adds Energy Secretary comments)
By Karolin Schaps and Susanna Twidale
LONDON, Dec 14 Nearly all customers of Britain's
second-biggest energy supplier, SSE, are paying standard
tariffs rather than cheaper rates on offer, a league table
published by regulator Ofgem showed on Wednesday.
The table, which for the first time records how many
customers pay more expensive tariffs, showed that 91 percent of
SSE's customers are paying a standard tariff. That is by far the
largest percentage among the country's Big Six suppliers, with
Centrica's British Gas in second spot at 74 percent.
So-called standard variable tariffs (SVTs) are basic rates
that energy suppliers charge if a customer does not choose a
specific tariff, a mechanism put in place to ensure consumers
are always supplied with energy.
Many consumers who have never switched supplier are on these
default, more expensive tariffs.
Energy bills have doubled in Britain over the past decade to
an average of around 1,200 pounds ($1,525) a year, and the
government has said it could intervene in the market if it
believes prices are too high.
Energy Secretary Greg Clark said on Wednesday that he didn't
want to see energy companies penalise loyal customers.
"I think the companies have a job to do to persuade the
public that they are not taking advantage of loyalty," he told a
On average, the Big Six's SVTs are 132 pounds ($167) more
expensive than their cheapest tariffs, the league table showed.
"We regularly tell customers about the cheapest tariff
available to them so they can make informed decisions," said an
SSE spokesman, adding the company's retail profit margin is
around 5 percent.
The league table also showed that Innogy-owned
Npower has the highest difference among the biggest suppliers
between its SVT and cheapest tariff at 261 pounds.
Other Big Six energy suppliers are Iberdrola's
Scottish Power, E.ON and EDF Energy.
The table reflects the fact that over the past two years
millions of customers have moved away from big providers to
The percentage of SVT customers at some of the small
suppliers is as low as 9 percent in the case of First Utility.
Analysts at Jefferies said that further switching away from
expensive tariffs would hit Centrica hardest.
"Centrica will be most exposed to customers switching to
cheaper fixed tariffs," they said. Centrica, as Britain's
biggest energy supplier, has 6.6 million customers on SVTs.
However, latest switching data published on Wednesday by
industry group EnergyUK showed that more and more customers are
returning to or staying with big suppliers.
A record 92,632 customers switched from a small to a large
supplier in October and the figure remained high in November at
($1 = 0.7901 pounds)
(Editing by David Evans and Susan Fenton)