Huhne takes on the energy companies

By staff

Chris Huhne will fire another warning shot across the bow of British energy companies today with demands for a radical compensation system.

The energy secretary – who has made his irritation with big energy companies clear in the last few days by berating customers who "do not bother" to shop around for their supplier – will make the announcements during his conference speech later.

Refunds for "bad behaviour" will be unlimited, according to the plans, and Ofgem will be handed new powers to prevent companies blocking the reforms.

"We are determined to get tough with the big six energy companies to ensure that the consumer gets the best possible deal," he will say.

"We want simpler tariffs – requiring energy companies to tell you whether you could buy more cheaply on another tariff.

"I believe Ofgem should have new powers to secure redress for consumers – money back for bad behaviour – and we will stop the energy companies from blocking action by Ofgem, which can delay matters by a year."

Energy companies are understood to have agreed to include information on switching to cheaper tariffs on their bills for this winter – just as prices skyrocket again.

They will also have to set out potential customer savings which could be achieved by switching to a new supplier.