Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael is backing calls for an investigation into the operations of fuel company DCC Energy following weekend reports that the company enjoys a virtual monopoly in many areas of the country.
Press articles claimed that DCC own a string of subsidiary fuel companies and a number of price comparison websites. The Sunday Times claimed that the ‘best prices’ offered on one of their sites were up to 65% higher than those offered by genuine independent retailers. Critics of DCC have argued that their failure to disclose which suppliers they own mean that many consumers are not getting a fair deal.
Mr Carmichael and Northern Isles MSPs Tavish Scott and Liam McArthur had already written to the Office of Fair Trading recently asking for an investigation into the liquid fuel market in Orkney and Shetland. Their letter followed sharp increases in the cost of heating oil and automotive fuel in the Isles.
Commenting, Mr Carmichael said:
‘Weekend stories have caused a great deal of anxiety locally. It is essential that that these concerns should be properly and independently investigated. That can only be done by the OFT and these stories strengthen my view that a full investigation is long overdue. In the past, the OFT has come up with spurious reasons not to look into this issue. That is no longer good enough.
‘During the recent period of cold weather, people with oil-fired heating systems were facing energy bills that had increased by up to 50% since September 2010. While the cost of kerosene has risen over this period I see no legitimate reason why consumers in the Northern Isles should face price hikes of this magnitude.
‘These revelations underline the importance of a full investigation of the liquid fuel market in Orkney and Shetland and I will be following up with the Office of Fair Trading to ensure that the points raised in the media over the weekend are taken fully on board.’