The arrangements have led to a significant reductions, up to 30 per cent, in wholesale prices for electricity suppliers and larger customers, it is claimed. These figures are compared to 1998 ‘in real terms’.

Speaking at St Thomas’ Hospital, London, (which had negotiated a 13 per cent cut before NETA came into effect) Mr Hain pointed out the deep flaws in the pool arrangement which amounted, he said, to a generators club, a way of setting wholesale prices which even the biggest buyers had little choice but to accept. In contrast, NETA is a genuinely open market in which generators have to seek out customers, giving the larger consumers a real choice.

The main savings have been in the forward markets, with some forward contract showing cuts of up to 30 per cent.