EDF boss makes plea for cooperation

Politicians and the energy companies must work together to cut household bills and invest in new power plants, the boss of one of the big six firms said.

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EDF chief executive Vincent de Rivaz has said politicians and the energy companies must work together to cut household bills and invest in new power plants

Politicians and the energy companies must work together to cut household bills and invest in new power plants, the boss of one of the big six firms said.

EDF chief executive Vincent de Rivaz said it would be wrong for the power companies to get around Labour's price freeze by raising prices at either side of it, if the Opposition comes to power in 2015.

But he refused to wade into the political row over household bills, insisting cooperation had already helped with costs to customers after changes to green levies restricted price rises by about £50. He said similar talks needed to continue.

Speaking on the BBC One Andrew Marr Show, Mr de Rivaz said "politicians are right to ask us questions" when challenged about Labour's price freeze plan but stopped short of an endorsement of the policy.

"The best way, frankly, is to join forces to bear down the costs... there is more opportunities to bear down on the cost in the future," he said.

He said "we should not behave like that" when asked if energy companies would simply hike prices either side of a price freeze, and added: "We have a responsibility, we should be a force for good, and to be part of the solution."

Mr de Rivaz said it was not true nothing could be done on energy bills, and insisted EDF had been among the "first to take action" when challenged to confirm his customers on fixed price tariffs would not see smaller bills after the Government's recent announcement on green taxes.

"That is why we have limited the rise of our bills in anticipation of what happened when the Government decided in working jointly with the industry to find solutions," he said.

"A lot of our customers are on fixed term contracts, it is a good deal - we have won in the last three years 600,000 customers."

The chief executive said it was vital for politicians and industry to "work together" and insisted it was not in the interests of his customers to step into political rows about the "real issue" of household bills.

He said: "On the short term, action can be taken, and we have shown it and I think more can be done.

"What I think is very important is we have to work together to bear down the costs... at the same time we need to think about the long term, we need to invest in this country, massive investment to keep the lights on.

"How do we do that in an affordable way, in a way we do not in such a way we abandon the vulnerable, that we do not drop our environmental objectives, and at the same time we keep the lights on?"

Mr de Rivaz said the Government had negotiated "very hard on the taxpayers' behalf" with his company on a recently announced deal to build a new nuclear power station, and it would not have happened if ministers had not reformed the market to attract investors.

He endorsed Chinese investment in new plants and praised the visit of David Cameron to China last week.

"Ultimately, we have a fair deal," he said.

Mr de Rivaz said the lights would say on this winter because of a reserve margin in supply, but warned investment was needed for future years.

"We need the right energy mix and we need our homes to be more energy efficient," he said.