The boss of the UK’s second largest energy supplier SSE has said that he overhauled the way the company buys and sells its electricity because he wanted to end “predatory pricing” and win back public trust.

Ian Marchant was speaking yesterday as SSE announced it would auction 100 per cent of its power on the UK’s day-ahead wholesale market and buy all its electricity from the same source.

He said “capacity, carbon and the customer is what energy is about in this decade and it’s the customer that has been neglected in that equation”.

He added that by unveiling SSE’s new buying and selling model, he was “rejecting forever any form of predatory pricing”.

The move was praised by the UK’s new shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint – in the job for just three days – who said she wanted to see the market opened up by a return to a “pool system”.

“Today’s announcement is welcome but it’s only the first step. We want to see what the other ‘Big Five’ will do,” she said.

SSE is one of the so-called ‘Big Six’ energy suppliers that have almost 99 per cent of the UK market. The others are nPower, ScottishPower, EDF, British Gas and E.ON.

All six have been under pressure from the government, regulator Ofgem and consumer groups to overhaul their pricing strategies to provide more transparent tariffs. Today, UK consumer watchdog Which? revealed that an investigation into tariffs found customers were often given wrong advice and in a third of cases were never offered the cheapest deal despite asking for it.

Yesterday, Richard Lloyd, executive director of Which?, said utility firms winning back public trust was key to the UK’s energy future: “We are asking customers to pay for decarbonisation. We are asking then to let energy companies through their front door to fit smart meters. So it’s essential that consumers are persuaded that companies are taking their interests to heart.”

He added that the move by SSE was “a downpayment on working towards building trust in the sector.”

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