The new electricity trading arrangements (NETA) came into effect in England and Wales on March 27 and according to energy minister Peter Hain were an immediate success, resulting in significant reductions in wholesale prices to electricity suppliers and larger customers. These figures are compared to 1998 ‘in real terms’. Speaking at St Thomas’ Hospital, (which had negotiated a 13 per cent cut before NETA came into effect) Mr Hain pointed out the deep flaws in the pool arrangement which amounted, he said, to a generators’ club, a way of setting wholesale prices which even the biggest buyers had little choice but to accept. In contrast, NETA is a genuinely open market in which generators have to seek out customers, giving the larger consumers a real choice. The main savings have been in the forward markets, with some forward contract showing cuts of up to 30 per cent.

•The European Union has drafted proposals to be put to EU leaders designed to speed up energy liberalisation and weld the EU’s 15 separate energy markets into one, despite widespread misgivings on issues of speed and accessibility in existing markets.