A major distributed network operator (DNO) has backed Ofgem in its call on licenced suppliers to extend support for billpayers out of usual working hours.
Britain’s energy regulator launched its consumer standards statutory consultation last month. Due to close this week, the package proposes a duty on licenced suppliers to provide round-the-clock reporting for faults on their meters.
Electricity North West, who operate the North West’s power network, has welcomed the proposal.
The DNO says the consultation follows its own earlier proposals to beef up the retail energy code rules.
Stephanie Trubshaw, Electricity North West’s customer service & connections director, said: “We’re really pleased Ofgem is carrying out a consultation which will enhance the service provided to customers.
“We aim to provide the best possible service to our customers, and we believe suppliers should do the same and operate 24/7, 365 days a year just as we do as a power network operator.
“Customers and particularly those in vulnerable circumstances need protecting when there’s a loss of power. Providing a 24/7 service will help do that and ensure power can be restored much quicker. This consultation is a win for customers and we look forward to seeing the outcome.”
ENW has previously called for a 24/7 coverage by energy retailers to cover for meter failure. In its written submission it gave evidence, highlighting how its contact centre frequently receives calls from customers unable to contact their supplier to report a meter fault. Such alarms can result in delays restoring supply to their properties.
As a work around, ENW provide support for suppliers’ customers by issuing top up cards and food vouchers. Sometimes, it argues, suppliers are often far better placed, and sometimes the only party able, to support their customers during breakdowns and brown-outs.
“The consultation is something we have called for, for several years after seeing our own customer contact centre at times inundated with calls about meter issues,” Trubshaw added.
“We’re already seeing the reliance on electricity increasing and that’s going to rise even further as Britain accelerates towards Net Zero.
“We do our utmost to protect customers through initiatives such as food vouchers, and pre-paid top up cards. But sometimes it is only the supplier who can assist. That has led to longer delays in our teams being able to restore power”.
“Should the consultation be successful, the changes will only benefit customers, and this is something we well and truly support.”