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LONDON, April 10 Centrica's British Gas,
the subject of an anti-trust investigation alongside Britain's
other big utilities, will pay about 5.6 million pounds ($9.4
million) to remedy past errors which had blocked business
customers from switching suppliers.
The country's big six suppliers - SSE, Scottish
Power, Centrica, RWE npower, E.ON
and EDF Energy - are under intense political scrutiny
ahead of a national election next year because of soaring
Britain last month ordered an anti-trust probe into energy
suppliers after finding signs of tacit price coordination.
Regulators said competition was now so weak and public trust so
low that a full investigation was required.
Energy watchdog Ofgem said on Thursday that British Gas's
business unit had blocked some customers from switching
suppliers between 2007 and 2012.
Computer errors had stopped some businesses from switching,
while the firm had not informed other customers that their
tariff was about to expire, meaning they did not shop around for
a new deal, it said.
Ofgem said British Gas would pay an 800,000 pound penalty
plus repay 1.3 million pounds to affected business customers,
and would also contribute 3.45 million pounds to an
"The ability for consumers to switch easily and fairly is
key to a well-functioning energy market," Ofgem senior partner
Sarah Harrison said in a statement.
Ofgem said that British Gas had co-operated fully in its
investigation and had corrected its processes to prevent any
repeat of the errors. The company's response was reflected in
the level of the settlement package, which would otherwise have
been higher, the regulator said.
Stephen Beynon, managing director of British Gas Business,
said: "We're sorry these errors occurred and have worked swiftly
to change our computer systems and processes."
($1 = 0.5971 British Pounds)
(Reporting by Sarah Young; Editing by Pravin Char)