UK energy bills forecast to hit ?3,850 as Russia cuts gas supply further
-Consumers also warned bills of more than ?3,500 a year could last ‘well into’ 2024


(Kremlin-controlled Gazprom said earlier this week that it would reduce flows through Nord Stream 1 to 20% of capacity, a threat it has delivered on.)


British households face being told shortly before Christmas to brace for annual energy bills of ?3,850, three times what they were paying at the start of 2022, after Russia further squeezed Europe’s gas supplies.


Consumers were also warned that annual charges of more than ?3,500 a year, or ?300 a month, could become the norm “well into 2024”.


The grim forecasts came a day after MPs said millions of people would fall into “unmanageable debt” without more government help to pay bills, following a surge in wholesale gas prices to near-record levels.


After Russia cut flows through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline on Wednesday, British wholesale gas for delivery this winter climbed to as high as 535p per therm, while European prices also rose.

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The energy-focused management consultancy BFY said the increase meant it now expected October’s price cap – set by the energy regulator Ofgem – to hit ?3,420 for the average dual-fuel tariff. Ofgem is expected to lift the cap higher in January, and BFY is forecasting it could reach ?3,850.


The cap is revised every six months but if Ofgem goes ahead with plans to shorten that period to three months, the new ceiling would take effect in January and would be announced in December, as consumers who are already wrestling with the cost of living crisis enter the traditionally high-spending Christmas period.


A source at one of the UK’s largest energy firms told the Guardian that its analysts believed the forecast for the price cap – which factors in what energy suppliers pay for gas on the wholesale markets – was realistic.

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BFY said the average customer could end up “facing a bill of ?500 in January alone”, reflecting increased consumption during the coldest months.


Cornwall Insight, which has typically forecast price caps with a high degree of accuracy, will not upxe its predictions for January until next week. It said it expected October’s figure to hit ?3,500, with bills remaining at least that high “well into 2024”.

通常对价格上限的预测精度很高的Cornwall Insight要到下周才会更新1月份的预测。该公司表示,预计10月份的这一数字将达到3500英镑,账单至少会保持这个水平“直到2024年”。

On Wednesday, runaway energy bills took centre stage in the race between Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss to be the next leader of the Conservative party and prime minister of the UK.


Sunak, who repeatedly dismissed Labour’s call to scrap the 5% VAT rate on energy bills while chancellor, suddenly backed the policy, in a change of heart that the Truss-supporting business secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, called a “screeching U-turn”.


Sunak said removing VAT on domestic energy would save households ?160 a year, although that would rise to nearly ?200 if the BFY’s forecast of an average ?3,850 bill proves to be correct.


Under current proposals, which were unveiled earlier this year by Sunak as chancellor, households will get ?400 off their bills, with the most vulnerable receiving support worth up to ?1,200.


But if the BFY forecast proves accurate, the energy price cap, which affects 22m households, would have increased by more than ?2,500 within a year, more than tripling from ?1,271 to ?3,850 for the average dual-fuel tariff.


A spokesperson for Greenpeace said the government had done “practically nothing” to offset the energy bill crisis, while Cornwall Insight said the ?400 rebate on bills was “only scratching the surface”.

绿色和平组织的一名发言人表示政府在抵消能源账单危机方面“几乎没有做任何事情”,而Cornwall Insight公司则表示,400英镑的账单退税“只是挠痒痒”。

MPs on the business and energy committee said this week that the price cap should be replaced with a “social tariff”, with the lowest-income households paying discounted bills, funded either by taxation or by wealthier bill payers.


The gloomier prognosis for bills came in response to Russia cutting supplies of gas through pipelines to Europe, against the backdrop of a prolonged standoff over Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.


The Kremlin-controlled gas firm Gazprom said earlier this week it would cut flows through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to 20% of capacity, a threat it has delivered on. It blamed problems with turbines, which it said had been made worse by sanctions, imposed by the west because of the invasion of Ukraine.

俄罗斯政府控制的天然气公司俄罗斯天然气工业股份公司本周早些时候表示,将把通过北溪- 1管道的天然气流量削减至输气量的20%,该公司已经发出了这一威胁。该公司将此归咎于涡轮机的问题,称西方因入侵乌克兰而实施的制裁使其雪上加霜。

Europe is scrambling to reduce reliance on Russian gas, with rationing now an option for the coming winter. While the UK sources relatively little gas from Russia compared to highly dependent countries such as Germany, European wholesale markets have a significant knock-on effect on prices paid in Britain.


As concern about the price and availability of gas mounted, data showed how reliant Europe is on gas, not just for heating in winter but also for electricity, depending on conditions.


A relatively windless day meant that gas was generating 50% of the UK’s electricity on Wednesday, with similar data reflected across Europe.


Greenpeace UK’s political campaigner, Ami McCarthy, said: “Even more wild than the astronomical price energy bills are set to reach in January, is the fact that the government’s known for ages that this was going to happen but done practically nothing to prevent it or support the millions of families that will be forced to freeze this winter.

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“The real solution is reducing our energy use and ending our reliance on gas, which is now more expensive than ever.”