Npower has become the last of the big energy firms to cut its bills, after announcing an eight per cent drop in its electricity prices. But consumer groups remain far from happy as the firm has decided to leave its gas prices unchanged despite dramatic falls in the price of wholesale gas. Last year Npower (sponsor of the England cricket team) raised its gas prices by 26 per cent, blaming record wholesale prices.
- The reaction?
The tariff cut did not garner the positive coverage the firm might have hoped for. The Daily Mail talked of 'new evidence of power giant profiteering', while The Guardian said gas customers would be 'angered' and The Sun talked of a customer 'backlash'. The firm was also criticised for delaying the impact of the electricity cuts until the end of March. Robert Hammond of watchdog Consumer Focus said it was 'yet another derisory cut in the cost of one fuel only, coming into effect when winter is effectively over and people are using less energy'.
- Who are the PR players?
Alison Cole is the firm's comms director with Richard Frost leading media relations as its head of PR. The German-owned firm retains Fishburn Hedges on a corporate and financial brief in the UK.
- What happens next?
Npower is taking the flak this week, but it is by no means alone in the media firing line. Although it may have been a PR blunder to be the last big firm to announce cuts, most others will also not come into effect until the end of the month. EDF Energy and E.ON refused to cut gas prices as well. But it is becoming increasingly difficult for the energy firms to justify the small price reductions when the wholesale prices used to justify inflation-busting increases have fallen by 50 per cent.
£43 - Average saving customers will make after price cut