British regulator says fines RWE energy unit £2 million

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Britain's energy regulator 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 on 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 supplier of energy to British homes and offices, handles its own customer complaints.

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

Energy companies operating in Britain have in recent months massively increased the amounts they charge customers, blaming the moves on a surge in the cost of purchasing gas and electricity on wholesale markets.

© 2011 AFP

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