(Adds context, compares EDF cuts with rival energy suppliers'
Dec 16 EDF Energy on Friday became
Britain's first big energy supplier to announce household winter
gas price cuts, breaking ranks with three rivals who have opted
to freeze prices instead.
British wholesale gas and electricity prices have risen
about 30 and 40 percent respectively since June, along with a
rebound in other commodities such as coal, leading to
speculation that some energy suppliers could raise prices.
But EDF's move may ramp up pressure on the remaining "Big
Six" firms, Iberdrola's Scottish Power and RWE's npower
, to also cut prices, if not freeze them.
British Gas owner Centrica, Britain's biggest energy
supplier with 6 million customers, SSE and E.ON
have all pledged to freeze prices this winter.
EDF Energy said it will cut UK variable gas prices by 5.2
percent from Jan. 6 before the coldest winter weather bites in
gas-heating reliant Britain.
From January, the firm's prepayment customers will get a
12.9 percent gas price cut.
But EDF is holding variable electricity prices until March
1, before raising by 8.4 percent - which none of the other
suppliers have yet announced.
"Electricity costs have been rising for some time, but gas
prices are not facing the same pressures," the company said in a
France's EDF, the parent company of EDF Energy, has lost
nearly 30 percent of its stock market value this year and has
warned of lower 2017 earnings due to an expected drop in power
prices, while safety probes force it to idle chunks of its
domestic nuclear output.
Taken together, the changes mean EDF Energy's new standard
dual fuel direct debit price will rise by 1.2 percent to 1,082
pounds a year, below forecast inflation.
Energy bills have doubled in Britain over the past decade to
about 1,200 pounds ($1,640) a year, and the government has said
it could intervene in the market if it believes prices are too
(Reporting by Oleg Vukmanovic and Nina Chestney; Editing by
Alexander Smith/Ruth Pitchford)