There're a number of different ways to look at a market and ponder whether it's competitive or not. Our problem being that the movement of prices in one that is perfectly competitive and one perfectly rigged will be the same. We can't therefore look just at those prices to try and make our determination.
We can though think about what should be true if it is a competitive market, look for that occurring and thus come to a determination. One of those things being, well, if the market is competitive on price then we'd expect to see those attempting to be the lowest cost provider experiencing significant difficulties in keeping going. For trying to be the lowest cost provider - without any particular low cost production method - is a precarious place to be in a competitive market.
Everyone is already charging just the minimum necessary to keep afloat and you're coming in lower? You're going to have a little problem there or two, aren't you?
Britain’s cheapest energy supplier risks being pulled from the market after the regulator found that a catalogue of customer service failings at the cash-strapped company has continued despite its warnings.
The Sunday Telegraph exclusively revealed that Iresa, and a clutch of similar sized suppliers, are on the brink of collapse due to rising costs and break-neck competition in the overcrowded market.
Note what our claim is not. That the electricity market is perfectly competitive in each and every nook and cranny of either the country or market. But if we expect the low cost suppliers to have solvency problems in a competitive market, we see the low cost providers having solvency problems, we are entirely justified in assuming that we've a pretty competitive market, aren't we?