Guernsey’s Competition & Regulatory Authority (GCRA) has found that Guernsey Electricity Limited (GEL) has breached its Electricity Licence Conditions by failing in its obligation to publish the prices it charges a select number of commercial customers for electricity. In addition, GEL has failed to demonstrate that those prices are transparent, non-discriminatory or cost-justified.
The regulated business is held to account through licensing obligations on transparency of the prices it offers. Visibility of prices and discounts offered to its electricity customers is necessary for the GCRA as the regulatory body, to be assured pricing is fair, for example that other customers are not subsidising special offers to a few large customers or showing unfair preference.
Michael Byrne, GCRA CEO said: “Rules of transparency are in place to ensure fair play in a special context where a single business has a powerful position in our economy with legacy advantages over any nascent competition and a very powerful position over consumers. Transparency about Guernsey Electricity’s prices is vitally important to assure fairness. We have no view whether these special prices Guernsey Electricity charges a select group of customers are unfair or whether householders are subsidising those prices, and we are not saying GEL cannot compete. Guernsey Electricity’s decision not to be transparent has however removed visibility of its pricing behaviour and this cannot be allowed to continue.”
Despite being informed that its conduct breaches its Electricity Licence, GEL has not accepted the GCRA provisional decision.
Mr Byrne added: “The GCRA has indicated to GEL that this is not an acceptable situation but regrettably is placed in a position of having to enforce transparency.”
GEL now has three weeks to publish the pricing information and the GCRA has offered to work with the company to discuss the best format in which that information will be provided.
Alan Bates, Chief Executive Officer of Guernsey Electricity, said: “Guernsey Electricity Ltd is extremely disappointed by the GCRA’s decision and the lack of a coherent and cogent legal basis for it.
Guernsey Electricity maintains that it has been fully co-operative with the GCRA and, contrary to what the GCRA alleges, the company has been transparent during the investigation through the voluntary and extensive provision of information to the regulator.
Guernsey Electricity strongly denies that it has breached its licence in any way and as alleged by the GCRA. This matter is still ongoing and we shall now take the time to consider our options which include an appeal. For these reasons, we are not able to make any further comment at this time.