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UK's RWE npower to hike retail power prices 9%, gas 11% from Dec 1


RWE npower is to raise its UK retail electricity prices 9.3% and its retail gas prices 11.1% from December 1, the German-owned utility said Monday.

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It cited higher costs for energy transport, power generation fuels and for fulfilling government schemes as the key drivers behind the price rises.

"We only aim to make around 5 pence in every pound (5%) in our retail business which we feel is a fair return for delivering reliable energy to consumers and for the risks that we bear," RWE npower CEO Paul Massara said in a statement.

He criticized plans by the UK's opposition Labour Party to impose a retail price freeze if it wins the next election due in 2015.

"We understand that although the Labour Party's proposed price freeze may appear superficially attractive it will not lead to lower sustainable prices going forward because it doesn't cut the growing costs of supplying energy," Massara said.

"Only 16% of the bill is under our control and imposing price controls discourages investment, increases uncertainty and ultimately leads to higher prices," he added.

RWE npower is one of the UK's big six energy utilities, which are all widely expected to increase their retail prices after strong wholesale gas and power price rises over the summer.

Centrica, the UK's biggest energy utility, said Thursday its retail arm British Gas will raise prices by 9.2% on average from November 23.

SSE, another of the big six, said on October 10 it would raise its retail prices on average by 8.2% from November 15.

The other big six utilities are EDF Energy, E.ON UK and Scottish Power.

--Siobhan Hall,
--Edited by Jeremy Lovell,