Experiencing
Loss of Energy
Supply

Experiencing
Loss of Energy
Supply

Experiencing
Loss of
Supply

Loss of Supply

Free, practical consumer advice and information on energy-related matters for the citizens of Scotland

Disconnection due to a Third Party

Your gas or electricity won’t be cut off if your energy supplier has gone out of business.

The gas and electricity regulator Ofgem will arrange for your account to be transferred to a new supplier. There won’t be a break in your supply when it’s transferred over, though the price you pay for your energy might go up.

Your new supplier will contact you and explain how much you will be paying for your energy. They’ll also tell you what’s going to happen to your credit balance from your old supplier if you had one – it should be refunded or transferred to your new account.

You should read your meter straight away and make a note of the readings or take a photo. You’ll need to give the readings to your new supplier – it will help make sure that your bills are accurate. Let them know if you can’t read your meter.

Your new supplier could be more expensive that your old one, so you might want to switch to a different supplier – you won’t be charged an exit fee.

 

If you have a prepayment meter

If you’re a prepayment customer, your new supplier should:

  • tell you how you’ll get a replacement key or card
  • provide a new prepayment meter if necessary – they shouldn’t charge you for this


If you’ve been paying off debt through your meter, that should carry on as usual. You should check with your new supplier to make sure, otherwise your debt might build up again.

You should also check where your nearest top-up point is – it might not be the one you’ve been using.

You’ll still be able to get emergency credit, though the amount you can get might change. Your new supplier can tell you how much emergency credit will be available.

You can switch to a different supplier if you want a better energy deal – you won’t be charged an exit fee by your new supplier.

If you have been making payments to your landlord for energy bills and they have not been paying, you cannot be chased for the debt if it is not in your name.

If the account is in arrears, then the energy company may consider disconnecting the supply.

If you are in a position where disconnection has been threatened, you can request that the supply is switched into your name.

You should outline your concerns to the energy provider in writing, supplying evidence that you have been making payments the landlord for utility bills with your rent (copies of bank statements paired with tenancy agreement will suffice).

If you have been disconnected already, you should also contact the energy supplier and discuss the situation with them.

Loss of Supply

When discussing energy, “Disconnection” refers to the loss of your energy supply if you are on a credit meter. A credit meter is billed monthly or quarterly, and you will incur arrears if not paid. If you have had arrears for more than 28 days, your supplier can make contact to inform you that disconnection will take place.

An energy company is restricted in regard to who they can disconnect from the energy supply. If the property is solely occupied by pensioners/a pensioner, it can’t be disconnected. In addition, properties containing at least one disabled or chronically ill person can’t be disconnected during the winter (1st of October until the 31st of March).

The Big 6 suppliers(British Gas, EDF Energy, N power, EON, Scottish Power and SSE) have agreed to not disconnect energy in properties that have someone with a disability/long-term health problem or severe financial problems or that is a young child.

Fortunately, the number of disconnections in Scotland have been zero for the past four years. This is because Energy companies are regulated to only do them as a last resort. Thusly, Energy companies can be negotiated with to find an alternative solution. If you are at risk of disconnection, the company could create a repayment agreement and/or move you to a prepayment meter instead.

If you require additional support after disconnection(impeding or completed) or wish to make a complaint about the energy company, Contact the Extra Help Unit for advice and assistance.

‘Self-disconnection’ refers to the loss of your energy supply while on a prepayment meter because the meter has run out of credit. This loss of energy prevents use of appliances, can lead to subsequent health problems and can make existing conditions worse.

For these reasons, many customers in difficult financial situations ‘self-ration’ their prepaid meter credit by using as little energy as possible, or by sacrificing money that would have been spent elsewhere. In order to prevent such occurrences, customers experiencing financial difficulties that may put them at risk of self-disconnection, should contact their energy supplier to negotiate a payment plan, or for a referral to a hardship fund for financial help with the energy debt or alternatively / additionally, for advice on managing their energy costs.

Ofgem obligates energy suppliers to only use prepayment meters when they are reasonably practical. This is particularly relevant when a smart meter is installed and the volume of information about your energy usage (or lack of usage) at the supplier’s disposal is much higher.

Energy suppliers are also required to offer credit for prepayment customers in certain circumstances. Emergency Credit can be requested if your credit runs low. Friendly hours credit can be requested during the night, at weekends or on public holidays. Additional Support Credit can be requested if you are vulnerable and have no other option to avoid self disconnection. Any of these Credits must be paid back on your next top up.

It is possible for a supplier to disconnect the energy supply remotely if there is a smart meter installed. However, there are rules and restrictions around disconnection still apply. The supplier must wait until the arrears are 28 days old to inform you of impending disconnection.

You can then contact the supplier to negotiate an alternative arrangement during this time. If you wish to raise a complaint about this issue or get assistance in dealing with the issue, contact the Extra Help Unit.

Certain groups can’t be disconnected from the energy supply remotely. Such groups include those who either are on the priority services register, owe a debt to a previous supplier, went bankrupt after arrears began or have non-energy arrears.

 If any of these apply to you and your energy has been remotely disconnected, use the complaints process to challenge the supplier. This can be escalated to the energy ombudsman through the normal complaints process if required.

An energy supplier can have a credit meter replaced with a prepayment meter in your property if they have a warrant. This warrant can be obtained through the courts if you haven’t paid back arrears within 28 days. You can contact the company to arrange an alternative solution in this period, which the company must agree to if it is a reasonable request. If this is not the case, and a warrant is obtained, you will be given 7 days’ notice for gas meters and 7 working days’ notice for electricity meters before installation of prepayment solutions. The supplier can charge you for the costs for the warrant, the court fees and the installation of the new meter. The cost of a warrant is £150.


However, there are restrictions on the energy supplier’s power to install these meters, even if they meet the criteria to obtain the warrant. Regulator Ofgem requires the installation of prepayment meters to only be conducted when it is safe and reasonably practical to do so. This mean that those deemed to be vulnerable can’t have a prepayment meter installed in their property against their will if the installation exacerbates problems related to vulnerability. This is because a vulnerable person can experience great difficulty from the increased costs from a prepayment meter and the threat of self-disconnection. In addition, Ofgem has introduced regulation preventing vulnerable customers from being charged for any part of the installation.

Loss of Supply due to technical error

Faults in prepayment meters can be caused by a broken meter key or by the meter itself. Reading the meter can tell you which of these is at fault. If the prepaid meter displays a message saying ‘error’, ‘call help’ or ‘battery’, there may be a meter fault. If contacted about this, the company must send an engineer to replace the meter within 3 hours on a working day (Monday to Friday except bank holidays) or 4 hours on a non-working day. This is to ensure that credit doesn’t run out on the meter and potentially result in a loss of power.

Failing this, it is possible that the prepayment meter key is faulty. In these instances, or if a key or card for the meter is lost, you should contact the supplier to request a replacement. The supplier should provide this replacement free of charge. However, there may be a charge if the card is repeatedly lost/broken. If a replacement is refused, you are entitled to raise a complaint with the supplier, following the normal complaints procedure. It may be appropriate to request a switch to a credit meter if this is convenient and the supplier is willing to do this. Alternatively, you may be able to switch suppliers entirely (provided you are not in debt (or as long as the debt is not in excess of £500 on both the gas and electricity prepayment meters).

If a power cut occurs, call 105 to speak to the local network operator. You can report the power cut to them or ask for information on what to do.

Power cuts and the compensation you can get for them varies depending on whether they are planned or not, their cause and how often they have occurred. If a power cut is scheduled to happen (e.g. work is required on the network, the power to be cut for safety reasons, etc.), you must be given a 2-day notice period.

In the case of planned works, the distributor has the responsibility to supply alternative methods for cooking and heating to those on the Priority Services Register (PSR), specifically applicable to vulnerable customers.

You are entitled to compensation for an unplanned power cut if it was the fault of either the electricity distributor or gas transporter. You will be entitled to £30 in compensation from the distributor. Power cuts may happen without notice, and as such, be classified as ‘unplanned’. This can occur when there is a failure in the energy network due to storm damage, or through accidents. In these circumstances, you are entitled to £75 in compensation if the power cut lasted for longer than 12 hours.

You are owed £35 for every additional 12-hour period of the power cut and if more than 5000 homes have been affected. This is up to a maximum amount of £300. If the loss of supply was caused by bad weather, you are entitled to £70 compensation and an additional £70 for every 12-hour period afterwards (to a maximum of £700).

If a power cut happens at least 4 times per year (the year running from 1st April to 31st March), then you will be entitled to another £75 in compensation. You must complain to the distributor in order to claim compensation. This is not a complaint in relation to the energy supplier. This claim must be made within 1-month if the cut was planned and 3 months if unplanned.

Note – If you have a power cut, keeping fridges and freezers closed can help to preserve the contents. You can complain directly to the energy distributor if you are unhappy with decisions made in relation to compensation for powercuts.

Erroneous transfers occur when you are accidentally switched over to another energy supplier without your knowledge or consent. This can happen for several reasons (e.g. a mix up of meter serial numbers or meter point reference numbers with someone else’s). This can also happen when there has been a new property built, or changes to the postal addresses within a building or area.

Erroneous transfers can happen frequently in Scotland and have a notable impact on consumers in Glasgow and Edinburgh due to the types of residential buildings. Changes to addresses in tenement buildings over the years has added to the confusion, with flat and door numbers changing and meter serial numbers and gas and electricity meter points frequently confused.

You could be unaware that such an event has occurred until you receive a letter from your supplier stating that they are no longer supplying energy to the property, or a letter from a new supplier to say that they are taking over the supply. This can also be identified when you receive a final bill or statement from your supplier, even though they have not requested a transfer away.

If you find yourself in this gaining a new supplier or losing one, you should contact the company immediately to rectify the situation. The supplier has 5 days to send a letter informing you of what they intend to do to resolve things.

At that point, the supplier has 20 working days to give confirmation of the switch or to assert that the transfer was correct. You are owed £30 if the supplier does not meet these time limits. The compensation must be given within 10 days or you must be given an additional £30.

A supplier that erroneously gained from the transfer must also make a guaranteed standards payment under Ofgem regulations, even if the issue was solved within the time limit.

If your credit meter (monthly or quarterly paid meter – by bill or statement) is found to be faulty when you test it, the supplier is obligated to fix it within a certain time period. You can check if the meter is faulty by turning off all lights and appliances and reading the meter. If the meter’s recording of energy usage doesn’t stop rising, or when appliances are turned back on one-by-one the meter reading rises too quickly, there is potentially a fault.

Upon being contacted, the supplier may request that you perform a ‘space test’ of the meter. This is the recording of meter readings at regular intervals over a set period (with space in between). This allows them to see if there is a problem with the meter and if necessary, send an engineer to investigate or replace it.

If the supplier fails to solve the issue within 5 working days, you will be entitled to claim £30 compensation to be paid in no more than 10 days. An extra £30 must be paid by the supplier if the compensation is not paid in that time.

Finding your supplier and Reconnecting

There are two ways of finding out which supplier you are using for energy. Firstly, the supplier will be displayed on your latest bill. Failing that, the supplier can be found on the Ofgem website:

https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/consumers/household-gas-and-electricity-guide/connections-and-moving-home/who-my-gas-or-electricity-supplier

The industry uses two systems to ascertain meter point information. These systems contain specific information on your meter serial number, the meter point for the property and other information, such as changes in energy supplier and applications for changes to supply and infrastructure that has happened over time. These systems are used by all the major stakeholders operating within the energy industry.

There are three ways of finding out which supplier you are using for energy:

 Firstly, the supplier will be displayed on your latest bill.

Secondly, the supplier can be found by using the MPAS. The Meter Point Administration Service is national service that keeps information on electricity meters, including the energy supplier used. You can call them on 0870 608 1524 or use their website:

https://findmysupplier.energy/webapp/index.html

Thirdly the supplier can be found on the Ofgem website:

https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/consumers/household-gas-and-electricity-guide/connections-and-moving-home/who-my-gas-or-electricity-supplier

The industry uses two systems to ascertain meter point information. These systems contain specific information on your meter serial number, the meter point for the property and other information, such as changes in energy supplier and applications for changes to supply and infrastructure that has happened over time. These systems are used by all the major stakeholders operating within the energy industry.

A supplier should be able to reconnect your property back to the energy supply but may charge you in order to do so. In addition to paying back any debt that owed, you will need to pay a reconnection fee and the administration costs of reconnection. The complaints procedure can be used if you believe that the costs are too high or that the disconnection was not warranted in the first place.

Disconnection due to a Third Party

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