Smart prepaid meters: Ofgem’s plan to protect UK consumers

UK energy regulator Ofgem bids to improve services offered smart prepayment meter users
UK energy regulator Ofgem aims to improve services offered to smart prepaid meter users

In the UK, energy market regulator Ofgem last week opened a consultation on its proposals to improve services offered to smart prepaid customers by utilities.

The energy regulator plans to monitor energy suppliers to see if they are passing on benefits of smart prepayment meters, according to Energy Live News.

Smart prepaid meter functionalities include offering emergency credit for gas and electricity accounts, and notifying customers of high energy usage or low credit status.

Ofgem is proposing to observe services using its Social Obligations Reporting, a key part of the watchdog’s work to protect consumer interests, Metering has learnt.

As part of their licence conditions, energy suppliers are required to provide Ofgem with information on their performance in relation to their social obligations.

This includes information relevant to dealings with domestic customers about payment methods, levels of debt and disconnection rates.

The energy regulator is also proposing that prepayment consumers are able to switch to credit mode when changing suppliers to avoid disconnection.

The consultation on proposals closes on 23 October 2015.

Ofgem engages utilities offering smart prepaid electricity services

In other consumer protection news, Ofgem announced in June 2015 it is working with utilities in a bid to cease installation and removal charges to avoid consumer switch off power.

The decision came after a study carried out by Ofgem showed disparity in how utilities treat consumers.

According to the report, consumers can save up to GBP300 in electricity costs if they switch payment method from prepayment to direct debit.

The report said 40% of utilities in the UK charge GBP180 and GBP160 respectively for prepaid meter installation and removal.

Smart prepayment in UK

On a related note, UK energy supplier EON in early May offered its 30,000 existing customers the chance to switch from prepaid meters to smart meters to reduce electricity costs.

E.ON’s Smart Pay As You Go scheme will offer households with prepaid meters the same tariffs as post-paid households, which it claims makes bills GBP67 cheaper on average than its closest prepayment competitor, reported

E.ON customers will be able to top up using a mobile device app, online or over the phone, rather than paying cash at their local shop.