WHAT THE PAPERS SAY: Heated debate on energyhikes

Npower's announcement of a hike in both gas and electricity prices provoked much sparring among energy price watchers.

Karl Brookes, spokesman for consumer champion Energywatch, was forthright: 'You would expect suppliers to respond in a more innovative way than instantly responding to wholesale prices by hitting the consumer in the pocket' (The Times, 7 January).

Price comparison websites uSwitch and TheEnergyShop.com advised customers to switch suppliers now.

Chancellor Alistair Darling appeared to jump on the consumer bandwagon by writing to regulator Ofgem asking for a meeting to discuss the implications of the price rises: an 'unprecedented step', according to The Guardian (8 January). In contrast, The Times said 'to have the Chancellor making a running commentary on energy prices is unhelpful' and 'the era of paying £1,000 a year for energy is probably here to stay' (7 January).

Consumer journalist Sean Poulter accused foreign energy giants of treating the UK like 'Treasure Island' (Mail on Sunday, 6 January).

Analysis conducted by Echo Research from data supplied to PRWeek from NewsNow.



Npower’s prices weren’t the only things to rise. The mention of the company in the blogosphere also went skywards, increasing by about 1,390% in the three days around the announcement compared to the three days before that.

Whereas the papers tended to focus on the likelihood of other companies following suit, bloggers and posters focused on what it meant for their own households, complaining that the UK standard of living was falling even further ‘down the toilet’ and a sentiment that ‘Third world standard of living, here we come.’ Darker comments warned it was stoking the flames for a 'spring of discontent.’

Blame in the blogosphere was attributed more widely than in the papers with Margaret Thatcher and even the American Right not escaping Bloggers’ ire. There was frustration that the UK hadn’t followed the examples of other countries such as Holland and Norway and preserved their own stores and revenues from energy during more prosperous times.

Unlike the papers, whose only alternative seemed to be switching energy providers, bloggers posted far more interesting suggestions. A fantastic, although not entirely practical, example being the discussions around building several fusion reactors on the moon to microwave its rich sources of Helium 3 to power the earth, solving all our energy problems and putting Npower out of business.

Sourced from 70 million blogs by Nielsen Online www.nielsen-online.com

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