British regulator fines RWE energy unit £2 million

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Britain's energy regulator Ofgem has fined npower, a unit of German power giant RWE, £2.0 million (2.3 million euros, $3.2 million) for failing to properly deal with customer complaints, it said Monday.

Ofgem said the penalty for RWE's British division was "for breach of the regulations which set standards for the way energy companies handle customer complaints."

It follows an Ofgem fine of £2.5 million imposed on British Gas in July for the same reason.

"Consumers have a right to expect that energy companies will comply with the standards," Ofgem official Sarah Harrison said in a statement.

"npower failed to do so and although it took remedial action, it has incurred a penalty for failing consumers."

The regulator added that it was investigating the way French-owned EDF Energy, another major energy supplier in Britain, handles customer complaints.

"A small number of processes were not correctly adhered to," npower said in a brief statement.

"Ofgem is now satisfied that all problems have been rectified and we are fully compliant with our obligations to our customers.

"We have zero tolerance for this type of issue and we'll continue to work hard to make sure our customers are put first."

Earlier this month, Ofgem unveiled proposals for a radical reform of Britain's retail gas and electricity market to provide more transparency for customers and greater competition.

Energy companies in Britain have increased prices sharply in recent months, citing higher gas and electricity costs on the wholesale markets.

© 2011 AFP

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