The UK Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) has proposed new price control settlements for five of six electricity network operators, aimed to spur investment in network upgrades and help lower energy bills.

Effective from April 2015 and running until 2023, the proposals will enable the five companies, which transport energy into homes and businesses, to invest £17bn to upgrade and maintain Britain’s local electricity network.

The five companies, include UK Power Networks, Northern Power Grid, SP Energy Networks, SSE Power Distribution and Electricity North West, were selected since they failed to deliver enough value for customers.

Western Power Distribution was the only company to have its price control agreed in 2013 by the regulator.

Since then, a total of £2.1bn was cut from the business plans.

Companies have also identified £700m of savings and Ofgem cancelled a further £1.4bn following cost analysis.

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"The companies will improve customer service and will enable new customers, such as businesses, new renewable generation developments."

Ofgem chief executive Dermot Nolan said: "This is the only part of the energy bill Ofgem directly controls and our plans today will deliver better customer service and efficient investment at a lower cost for the customer.

"Today’s announcement is all part of Ofgem’s consistent drive to get the best deal for consumers while maintaining a stable regulatory regime, which attracts investment as cheaply as possible.

"During the course of the price control there is expected to be an increased take-up of low-carbon technologies, including heat pumps, solar panels and small-scale renewable generation.

"Ofgem’s regulation focuses companies’ attention on connecting these low carbon technologies in a timely and cost effective way, using smart solutions where appropriate."

The proposals are under consultation for the next eight weeks and the final decisions will be unveiled in November 2014.

In addition to requiring efficient investment, the companies will improve customer service and will enable new customers, such as businesses, new renewable generation and housing developments, to get connected to the network faster.

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