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Last Updated: Friday, 17 February 2006, 15:30 GMT
Scottish Gas prices rise by 22%
Scottish Gas said the rises were unavoidable
Scottish Gas said the rises were unavoidable
A consumer watchdog has advised energy consumers to consider switching suppliers as Scottish Gas became the latest to announce a huge price rise.

Energywatch Scotland said the 22% hike in gas and electricity prices was the "most serious single event in two years of trauma for energy consumers".

Centrica, which owns Scottish Gas, blamed the move on soaring wholesale gas prices.

The latest increase will take effect from 1 March.

Scottish Gas has about 1.8 million gas users.

Jim Needham, director of Scottish Gas, said: "We recognise the impact that these substantial but unavoidable price rises will have, and we are committed to helping all of our customers.

'Seriously malfunctioning'

"Our aim is to ensure that every vulnerable Scottish Gas customer asking for help receives assistance next winter.

"The reality is that the energy map is being redrawn, with this island now dependent on gas imports from Europe, a market which the commission says is 'seriously malfunctioning'."

Graham Kerr of Energywatch Scotland said: "These are wholly unprecedented rises.

"Scottish Gas claims they are unavoidable and is offering extra support for certain groups of consumers.

"However, consumers can avoid the full impact of these rises by switching to cheaper suppliers."

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