LONDON, Sep. 13, 2000 (Knight Ridder/Tribune) — London Electricity regulators today warned that November’s promised shake-up of the wholesale electricity market could be delayed until 2001.

Problems encountered in the latest stage of testing mean that the planned 21 November start date of the so-called New Electricity Trading Arrangements, is in jeopardy, said a spokesman for the regulatory body Ofgem.

A delay of more than a few weeks would mean the launch of NETA is postponed until after the Christmas break. “We have to be 110 percent sure that everything is up to speed and working correctly,” the spokesman said.

The glitches are a setback for Trade Secretary Stephen Byers, who has promised consumers that the new market will enhance competition between generators and lead to lower bills for consumers, a claim that some experts dispute. It is also an embarrassment for NETA’s IT project managers Logica

In a statement Ofgem, headed by Callum McCarthy, said: “A meeting took place today of all participants in the end-to-end testing to review the criteria that would need to be met for testing to begin on 18 September. The meeting concluded that all but one of the four categories of criteria would be met, in whole or in part.” Ofgem and the DTI are considering the implications of this.

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© 2000, Evening Standard, London. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.