Ofgem announces two more suppliers can restart involuntary prepayment meter installations

E.ON prepayment meter

E.ON and Tru Energy are permitted to restart involuntary prepayment meter installations, Ofgem said

Jessica Sheldon

By Jessica Sheldon

Published: 21/02/2024

- 12:12

Updated: 26/02/2024

- 14:21

Ofgem permitted three energy suppliers to return to forcible prepayment meter installations last month

Ofgem has announced two more energy suppliers are now permitted to restart involuntary installations of prepayment meters (PPMs).

E.ON and Tru Energy have now met the energy regulator’s set of conditions to return to forcibly fitting prepayment meters, after a temporary ban for all suppliers.

The conditions include conducting internal audits to find wrongfully installed PPMs before February 2023 and offering compensation and a return to a non-prepayment payment method to any affected customers.

EDF, Octopus and Scottish Power have been able to install prepayment meters without a household’s permission since last month.

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An Ofgem spokesperson said: “Protecting consumers is our number one priority.

“We’ve made clear that suppliers must exhaust all other options before considering forced installation of a prepayment meter, and consumers can help themselves by reaching out to their supplier as soon as possible if they think they won’t be able to pay their bill, so payment options can be discussed.

“Our rules on when, and how, a prepayment meter can be installed are clear and we won’t hesitate to take action if suppliers act irresponsibly.”

The energy watchdog said they would continue to work “closely” with consumer groups and suppliers to ensure households understand their rights regarding prepayment meters.

Ofgem also said they will “regularly review” their rules to make sure they work to protect the most vulnerable people.

The spokesperson added: “We would also strongly encourage consumers to make sure their personal details and circumstances are up to date with their supplier, so they can be taken into consideration if or when payment problems arise.”

Suppliers will need to make at least 10 attempts to contact a customer before a prepayment meter is installed.

They will also need to carry out a site welfare visit before the installation.

A PPM cannot be forcibly fit if the household is considered to include the “highest risk” customers, such as households requiring a continuous energy supply for health reasons, having an older occupant aged 75 and over without support, or with children under two years old.

GB News has contacted E.ON asking for comment. Tru Energy declined to comment.

A spokesperson for EDF said: “We have a duty to keep bills as low as possible, especially given customers are struggling, and rising debt levels are leading to all households facing bigger bills.

“It is important to restart, under strict supervision from the regulator, processes that help individual customers get out of debt and protect all customers from additional charges.

“Smart Pay As You Go meters provide the cheapest rates, without needing to visit a shop to top-up, and enable us to provide support quickly if customers run into difficulty.”

Octopus Energy said it does not have plans to restart involuntary installations. The supplier said they have only ever carried out involuntary installations in "extremely rare circumstances" and "any response at all from customers can halt" the process. Octopus Energy also said they constantly check for vulnerabilities.

A ScottishPower spokesperson said: “While we have met Ofgem’s strict criteria and been authorised to restart involuntary prepayment meter installations, where appropriate, this is always a last resort. Our focus will continue to be on supporting our customers to manage their debt and avoid the need for such action.

“If any customer is struggling to pay, we would urge them to contact us or speak to a debt charity right away, so we can take their situation into account and get them the help they need. Talking to us will also allow us to determine whether a prepayment meter is appropriate for their individual circumstances or not, in line with the regulator’s strict rules and licence conditions which we have met.”

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