Three UK Energy Firms Accounted for 70% of Forced Payment Meters

image is BloomburgMedia_RS6192T0G1KW01_27-03-2023_11-00-07_638154720000000000.jpg

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 07: In this photo illustration a prepay electricity key sits in a prepayment electricity meter in a rented home on February 07, 2023 in Birmingham, England. Ofgem has ordered all UK energy companies to suspend the practice of forcibly installing prepayment meters and will report back to the Business Secretary today. (Photo illusttration by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images) Photographer: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images Europe

Three UK energy suppliers were responsible for more than 70% of prepayment meters installed under court order, government figures show.

The practice of forcing vulnerable households to use the pay-as-you-go meters, which typically turn out more expensive than paying by direct debit, has caused an uproar amid Britain’s cost-of-living crisis. A government ban on court-ordered installations was introduced last month but is set to end in April.

British Gas, which is owned by Centrica Plc, Iberdrola SA’s Scottish Power unit and Ovo Energy Ltd. accounted for almost three-quarters of the 94,000 prepayment meters installed under warrant in 2022, the figures show. An average of more than 7,500 such meters were forcibly installed each month.

Suppliers have also come under fire from fuel-poverty activists and politicians after posting record earnings last year as the war in Ukraine sent energy prices soaring.

Industry regulator Ofgem is conducting a review into the use of prepayment technology in the sector. UK Energy Security Secretary Grant Shapps has asked companies to compensate those customers mistreated through the practice.

©2023 Bloomberg L.P.

By Celia Bergin


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