The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) extends the deadline for concluding its energy market investigation

Written on 22 Sep 2015

The CMA has revised the timetable for concluding its market investigation into the energy markets. In accordance with the statutory timetable, the industry anticipated publication of the CMA’s final report by the end of December 2015 but this is not now expected before April 2016.

The investigation focuses on a wide range of issues across both the retail and wholesale markets for the supply of gas and electricity in the UK including consumer switching apathy, the role OFGEM and DECC as regulators of the market and unilateral market power at various stages of the supply chain. In July, the CMA consulted on a range of proposed remedies including a (transitional) cap on the retail price of electricity, the creation of an independent price comparison website for retail energy prices and the enhancement of OFGEM’s existing duty to promote competition in the energy markets. 

The CMA has announced today that it has exercised the power to extend the deadline for conclusion of the investigation in order to properly consider the voluminous responses to the proposed remedies. 

Extensions to the statutory timetable are permitted only in “special” circumstances. On this, Chairman of the inquiry, Roger Witcomb, provided the following statement: 

“This investigation – and the measures that could result from it – will have long-standing consequences for millions of customers in an industry of vital importance to the whole country. As the most comprehensive investigation in to the energy market since privatisation, this is a once in a generation opportunity to shape the future of this market for the better. It is important to get it right.” 

The high-importance afforded to the investigation reflects the commitment in the Conservative Party General Election Manifesto to implement the recommendations of CMA following the market investigation.

The key dates, as published in the CMA’s revised timetable are: 

  • July to October 2015 Consideration of responses to provisional findings and consultation on remedies including response hearings
  • January 2016 Publish provisional decision on remedies
  • February 2016 Deadline for responses to the provisional decision on remedies
  • Mid-March 2016 Final deadline for all parties’ responses before final report
  • April 2016 Publish final report
  • 25 June 2016 Revised statutory deadline

Whilst the decision to extend the investigations means an extended period of uncertainty for the industry, it does provide more time for interested parties (such as generators, suppliers and distributors) to consider, and respond to, the proposed remedies. If you would like to discuss this development and the opportunities to engage with the process, please contact one of our experts.