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Huhne turned the lights off?

The Energy Secretary Chris Huhne is poised to take the fight to the big energy companies when he announces new proposals that will order the firms to pay 'unlimited refunds' for bad behaviour, and help customers save cash.

He will also unveil new powers for the energy regulator Ofgem that will allow it to stop companies that block reform. He also wants to make it easier for consumers to switch suppliers, which he hopes could help them save up to £200 a year.

'We are determined to get tough with the big six energy companies to ensure that the consumer gets the best possible deal,' Huhne will say. 'We want simpler tariffs. Requiring energy companies to tell you whether you could buy more cheaply on another tariff. And you could save real money.

'I want to help households save money, simpler charging, clearer bills, quicker switching and more consumer-friendly firms - co-ops, partnerships, consumer charities - dedicated to doing the shopping around for consumers to make sure that you are always on the best deal, even if you do not have time to check yourself.

'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.'

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