Households must prepare for a sharp rise in energy bills within two years as Britain comes “dangerously” close to power shortages, the chief executive of Ofgem has warned.
The country would become more reliant on foreign gas to generate electricity as European Union pollution laws meant the dirtiest coal-fired stations had to shut, said Alistair Buchanan, the regulator’s outgoing head.
He pointed out that gas was already 60 per cent more expensive in countries such as Japan that relied on imports. It was impossible to predict how high bills could go for British households, he said.
Ministers admitted that Britain faced a “looming energy gap” but blamed the previous government for agreeing to shut coal plants too quickly.
Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, admitted that consumers could feel a “pinch” starting within two years. The Government was fighting to “keep the lights on”, he insisted.
Mr Buchanan warned that the “near-crisis” would occur between 2015 and 2018, pushing up bills. Blackouts were “not likely” but there would be a “double squeeze” on energy prices.