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Details of energy market study due
Details of a review of energy market competition will be unveiled, with Energy Secretary Ed Davey set to reveal the start date of the process
Details of a review of competition within the energy market will be unveiled today, as divisions over how to address spiralling household bills continue to dominate political debate.
Energy Secretary Ed Davey will reveal the start date of the new annual process, promised by Prime Minister David Cameron as he sought to wrestle the initiative on the issue from Labour.
It is expected to begin more quickly than anticipated, with Mr Cameron telling MPs yesterday that he wanted "an inquiry that starts straight away".
A Department for Energy and Climate Change source declined to reveal the timetable but said it would be set up and report "swifter than many may think".
The review will focus on three areas - prices and profits, competition and customer engagement.
It will be conducted by industry regulator Ofgem, the Competition Commission and the Office of Fair Trading.
From April the Competition and Markets Authority will take over the role of the Commission and consumer activities of the OFT.
Tony Cocker, chief executive officer of E.ON, had written to Prime Minister David Cameron calling for a Competition Commission investigation into the industry to be set up to help reassure customers.
Labour - which has pledged a 20-month energy bill freeze if it wins the 2015 general election - has dismissed the review which it said would do nothing to address the immediate issue.
"How will a review that reports next summer help people to pay their bills this winter?" Labour leader Ed Miliband asked when the issue again dominated Prime Minister's Questions in the Commons.
The announcement - which will be made as part of Mr Davey's annual Commons statement on energy - came amid continued coalition tensions over so-called "green levies".
Mr Cameron has vowed to look at scaling back the environmental subsidies, which under-fire energy firms blame in part for fast-rising bills for customers.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said he would fight any " hasty, ill-thought through change" in Chancellor George Osborne's Autumn Statement in December.
He said it was "totally implausible" that bill hikes were being caused by green levies, adding that the proportion it accounted for in terms of costs was unchanged from last year.
Mr Clegg called on the firms to "come clean" about how they were passing on the costs to customers.
"I would say to the Big Six that it's time that they opened their books, it's time that they were straight with people, it's time that they levelled with their customers."
But a suggestion by the Liberal Democrat leader that the levies could simply be "rolled over" into general taxation was played down by a senior Conservative.
Energy Minister Michael Fallon said the proposal was "only one option that one minister referred to".
He told MPs there was no specific target for how much the Government hoped to reduce the levies by.
Tory MP Zac Goldsmith accused the Prime Minister of having "inflated and exaggerated" the scope for reducing household bills by getting rid of green levies.
"It does appear that the Big Six energy companies have managed to completely set the agenda so that all of us are looking at what is in real terms a less significant part of the bill," he said.
The boss of a smaller competitor to the "Big Six" energy firms claimed yesterday they were ripping off customers and acting "like a cartel".
Ecotricity's Dale Vince said energy companies had been taking advantage of consumers since the utilities were privatised and the market is "dysfunctional".
An analysis by industry regulator Ofgem showed that, while the increases announced so far this autumn by some of the companies have averaged 9.1%, wholesale prices have risen by 1.7% - adding just £10 to the average household bill of £600.
Shadow energy minister Jonathan Reynolds said: "Hard-pressed energy customers struggling with the cost of living need action now, not the promise of another review in future led by the same regulator that has let the energy companies get away with ripping people off.
"Nothing less than a price freeze will do, because this is the only way we can deal with the energy companies overcharging.
"Labour's energy freeze will save money for 27 million households and 2.4 million businesses and our plans to reset the market will deliver fairer prices in the future.
"People are sick and tired of paying over the odds because David Cameron is too weak to stand up to the energy companies."