Gas and electricity was privatised in the late '80s, starting with British Gas. Since then, prices have increased astronomically, and customer satisfaction is down at 32%. Shareholders are paid huge dividends while customers are forced to accept constant price increases.
The Big Six supply companies supply 95% of all UK households, but alternative, publicly owned options are available. We've catalogued the failings of the Big Six below - if you're with one of them, why not thinking about switching to a local public supplier?
Find out more about public energy here.
British Gas was formed from the infamous 'Tell Sid' privatisation of the British Gas Corporation in 1986 by Margaret Thatcher's government. Its parent company is Centrica, a UK-based multinational energy company that also supplies customers the US and Ireland and has interests in the exploration and production of natural gas. Centrica is a plc listed on the London Stock Exchange.
British Gas supplies electricity and gas to over twelve million homes in the United Kingdom, and is the biggest energy supplier in the country. It's part of the 'Big Six' energy companies that dominates the gas and electricity market in the United Kingdom.
E.ON UK is fully owned by the German-based energy company E.ON, one of Europe's largest energy companies, which serves millions of people across Europe and runs nuclear power stations and wind farms in Germany, UK, Sweden and Poland. E.ON is based in Essen, Germany, and is listed on the DAX index on Frankfurt Stock Exchange.
E.ON UK is an energy company that generates and supplies energy to millions of customers in the UK. It manages a number of coal, gas and onshore wind power plants. It's one of the 'Big Six' energy companies that dominate the UK market.
EDF Energy is owned by Électricité de France, itself 85% owned by the French government.
EDF Energy supplies electricity and gas to 6 million customers in the UK. It also generates energy from coal power stations, 8 nuclear plants and some renewables, generating around 20% of the UK's energy. It is building the controversial new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point C in Somerset, for which the government has agreed a 'guaranteed fixed price' that could cost UK energy customers a total of £29.7 billion in higher energy bills over the plant's lifetime. It's one of the 'Big Six' energy companies.
Since 2002 npower has been owned by German multinational utilities company RWE, based in Essen, Germany. RWE is the second largest electricity producer in Europe, and has upwards of 30 million electricity and gas customers in Europe. RWE also owns and runs coal, natural gas, oil-fired and renewable energy power stations in the UK, and is listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.
Npower supplies gas and electricity to residential and business customers in the UK. It's one of the 'Big Six' energy companies that dominate the UK market.
Since 2006, Scottish Power has been fully owned by the Spanish multinational energy company Iberdrola, one of the largest utility companies in the world. Among its largest shareholders are the Qatari sovereign wealth fund the Qatar Investment Authority and BlackRock Inc, described as the world's largest 'shadow bank'.
Scottish Power is an energy company that supplies electricity and gas to UK homes and businesses, chiefly in Scotland. Unlike some other UK energy companies Scottish Energy it operates and maintains some electricity distribution and transmission networks in central and southern Scotland, Merseyside and North Wales. It also generates energy with its coal, gas and renewable power stations. It's one of the 'Big Six' energy companies that dominate the UK market.
SSE is a public limited company listed on the London Stock Exchange, so is owned by a whole range of investors.
SSE generates and supplies energy and gas to millions of customers in the UK and operates some electricity distribution and transmission infrastructure. It generates energy from coal, onshore and offshore wind and hydroelectric power plants. It's one of the 'Big Six' energy companies that dominate the UK market.
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