Token prepayment customers and debt build up declines in U.K.


Cape Town, South Africa — (METERING.COM) — May 30, 2007 –Since the start of 2007 the number of token prepayment meters accruing debt in the U.K. has declined from 409,000 to less than 149,000.

The latest returns, submitted to the energy regulator Ofgem by the three suppliers Scottish Power, npower and Powergen for February and March 2007, show that the remaining stock of token prepayment meters stands at around 610,000.

Scottish Power has confirmed that the number of token PPMs yet to be recalibrated has fallen to fewer than 38,000, and that it has made in excess of 220,000 visits to these customers since their last price increase in July 2006. However problems have been encountered with gaining access to prepayment meter premises, and a pilot exercise has been undertaken to target specific customers by telephone and letter by offering a payment to incentivize the installation of a key meter. There will now be a doubling of effort to gain access to the 38,000 customers.

Scottish Power’s recent price reductions bring its prepayment tariffs below its standard credit tariff. Price cuts take effect from June 15 and Scottish Power’s PPM token customers will not have to wait for meters to be recalibrated.

The returns also show that npower and Powergen are continuing to make progress in reducing the number of token prepayment meters accruing debt, with reductions of 83,000 and 92,000 respectively since December 2006, and they both have arrangements in place to limit the overall level of debt any customers will pay. For its part, npower, which has followed a different approach to the other two suppliers, is not loading any debt onto meters until an individual assessment of the customer’s position has been carried out. To date over 2,000 accounts have been processed, writing off a total of £170,000 averaging £49 per customer.

As a result of these reports Ofgem can confirm that suppliers have stepped up their programmes for replacing token meters, and the period in which they are aiming to have replaced all meters varies from the end of this year to the end of 2009, said Sarah Harrison, Ofgem’s managing director corporate affairs, in an open letter.