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OFGEM Issued A Letter Of Expectations Regarding Backbilling

150 150 David

OFGEM issued yesterday a letter to suppliers, outlining their expectations for energy suppliers who are dealing with domestic and micro
business consumers when undertaking charge recovery action (also called backbilling).

The purpose of this letter is to remind relevant energy suppliers of the requirements placed
on them by supply Standard Licence Condition (SLC)
1 21BA (‘SLC21BA’) with respect to
charge recovery action, so they apply the relevant consumer protections consistently and
Based on information we have received from consumer bodies (Citizens Advice, Citizens
Advice Scotland, the Extra Help Unit and the Energy Ombudsman), we are concerned that
suppliers are not correctly and consistently adhering to SLC 21BA, which sets out the
conditions under which suppliers can recover charges for the supply of gas or electricity
(the Backbilling Requirements)

In summary the letter states: Ultimately, it is the responsibility of suppliers to bill consumers correctly for their usage and
to ensure consumer accounts are correctly reconciled. Consumers must not be held
responsible for failing to identify errors in their billing or that a debt balance is accruing.

While we welcome that OFGEM is taking the issue of backbilling customers seriously, we would like see better information of the public of their rights.

As in many other areas, we also believe, that protection of backbilling should be extended to non-micro businesses. Far too many small businesses don’t qualify as micro-business but still don’t have the resources, knowledge and experience to deal with all aspects of their utility bills.



Make Sure Your Smart Meter To Be Installed Is 2nd Generation (SMETS2)

150 150 David

Utilita has been reprimanded by OFGEM for continue to fit 1st generation smart meters (SMETS1), which can loose functionality when the customer switches supplier, instead of the latest generation SMETS2 meters.

OFGEM has warned, if they fail to fit 15000 2nd generation smart meters by 31st July 21 they could be banned from taking on new customers.


British Gas No Longer Communicates With Most Brokers

150 150 David

British Gas has recently introduced a new policy: They will no longer communicate with smaller brokers apart from accepting termination notices.

We find this totally unacceptable, as many customers rely on their brokers to resolve billing and other problems with their suppliers.

Customers have all the right to appoint a 3rd party of their choice to represent them with their suppliers.

We have raised this matter with OFGEM and hope the regulator will intervene against such practices.

Companies pay £10.5 million over 9 August power cut

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OFGEM have announced that 3 companies pay combined £10.5 million over the 9th August power cut.

See link for full details:

Companies pay £10.5 million over 9 August power cut

This will hopefully send a message to all power generators and distributors to ensure security of supply.




Gas & Electricity Price Volatility Due To EDF Nuclear Scare

150 150 David

We have just been informed by a supplier that the energy market is currently going through a significant volatility due to the latest EDF nuclear scare.

EDF reported that some of it components currently in use by french nuclear power stations are substandard.

EDF shares plunged 7% and the effect on global energy prices have yet to be seen. Should any of the French nuclear power stations, which provide 80% of the country’s electricity, need to be halted that can shoot up both gas & electricity prices.

A silver lining in this latest development may be the extra push for more renewable energy.

OFGEM: Price Cap For Domestic But Not For Business Customers

150 150 David

OFGEM has recently published a report investigating the possibility of changing the price cap model for domestic consumers on the expensive variable tariff to a cost pass-through tariff.

In response I have written to OFGEM asking why is there no price cap on out-of-contract tariff for business customers and we received the following response:

Thank you for your email.

There are currently no price caps in place for business contracts, however we recommend that business customers should talk directly to their suppliers to see if they have any better offers. Note that if you are consuming energy on a default – or deemed – tariff, the supplier has an obligation to take all reasonable steps to tell you about other available contracts and how you can get information on these.

Kind Regards

Consumer Affairs

Assistant Manager

Commonwealth House

3rd Floor

32 Albion Street


G1 1LH

We still believe suppliers should not be free to charge out-of-contract rate at any level they wish and OFGEM should either impose a cap or make it a license condition that any deemed rate must reflect actual cost.

Suppliers Are Going DD Only

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Two supplier’s who previously offered cash & cheque payment method have reviewed their policy.

SSE have communicated they no longer offer CC payment but customers can choose between fixed monthly or variable DD.

Similarly British Gas are restricting  DD payment only to small customers (<50’000kwh electricity or <73’200kwh gas).

With this growing list of supplier’s accepting DD payment only, organisations of all sorts and sizes are well advised to set up their accounting procedure to allow DD payments. Payment by CC to those supplier who still allow it may attract a premium. So payment by DD will usually save them money, too.

Shall I Get A Smart Meter?

150 150 David

Some customers have contacted us to find out whether to accept the supplier’s invitation to install a smart meter.

One thing is for sure, by the end of 2020 every consumer domestic or commercial will need to have a smart meter installed.

That means we are now in the last 18 months of the smart meter rollout and suppliers are under increasing pressure to the deadline as well as the year on year target. While SMETS1 should no longer be installed in many instances installation of SMETS2 may not be feasible. As installing the former is no longer counted towards the supplier’s expected targets it is unlikely that customers will be offered one when there is no other need to change a meter.

So if you think you would benefit from a smart meter, why wait. But if you rather don’t get a revisit to change the current meter just make sure you get a SMETS2.

A clear and comprehensive guide about the options is available on the ovo website:

British Gas Closes Email Channel

150 150 David

Just received notification from British Gas saying: we’ll soon be closing our email channel. Instead, our webchat team will be happy to help with your query.

We strongly object to such a move as many customers prefer using emails than webchat. You would have to remember the log-in details and webchats are usually only open during office hours. Emails allow customers to do their paperwork evenings and weekends. Also emails can be used by brokers on behalf of their clients by attaching a valid letter of authority, webchat will make that much harder.

We hope  British Gas will reconsider and other suppliers will not follow suit.

Telecom Users To Get End Of Contract Alerts

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Under a new OFCOM rule, telecom users must be alerted before their contract comes to an end to avoid customers paying excessive out-of-contract rates unnecessarily.

Alpine Utilities have long campaigned to bring telecom contracts in line with energy ones.

Although we would like to see contract end dates printed on bills as required on domestic & microbusiness energy contracts our telecom provider Plusnet have taken a step into the right direction and now clearly display the CED on the members landing page.

We hope that shopping around and changing all utility suppliers should become as easy as shopping for your cheapest washing powder.