Energy Suppliers Reject New Customers Due to Market Crisis | Energy bills
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Sarah Greaves *, a single mother who has spent the past six months renovating a house near Stroud, found herself facing a winter without adequate heating as no energy supplier was willing to take her as a customer and install a counter.
In recent months, the UK energy market has come to a standstill. The surge in wholesale gas prices led to the disappearance of 21 energy suppliers – two failed this week – and around 2 million customers had to be transferred to a new supplier appointed by the energy regulator, Ofgem.
For most of those affected, it has been a story of steep price increases as they found themselves moving to a capped rate. However, a new problem has arisen that could affect anyone connecting a home to the network for the first time: providers refuse to accept new customers in case they end up suffering a loss.
As part of his home’s modernization plan, Greaves asked builders to pull out old inefficient electric storage heaters and replace them with gas central heating. While the house is expected to be connected to the electricity grid in early December – with most of the construction being completed around the same time – she says there is no prospect of having a working gas supply of so early.
“To my horror, I discovered that no independent supplier or installer is installing gas meters at this time,” she told Guardian Money. “They all blame the current market situation and refuse to take us as a customer. My daughter and I are supposed to move in after the work is done, but I have no idea how we will heat the place this winter, if no company will provide us with gas.
She says she first contacted SSE, which already supplies electricity to the property, but was told that she is not currently accepting new customers due to the “under pressure in the fuel market”. She has since approached British Gas, Ecotricity, E.ON, EDF, Octopus and two smaller suppliers, who all refused.
E.ON told him via Twitter that he had made the difficult decision to “pause new connections due to market conditions.”
Wales & West Utilities, the company responsible for connecting the property to the gas network, told her it could not intervene as only its supplier could install the meter.
“I can’t be the only person in this position – a lot of people renovate old houses and install modern heating – but it seems there is no solution,” she said. “We will not have hot water and will have to use portable electric heaters during the coldest time of the year. Are businesses certainly obligated to connect customers who need heating? “
After Guardian Money intervened, SSE, now part of Ovo, told Greaves that they would now connect their home and install the meter on December 10. He also examines why his request was not forwarded to the right internal team and the messages that were sent to him.
A spokesperson for Ofgem said that suppliers are obliged to hire clients on demand: “We have made it clear that suppliers must comply with the license conditions despite the difficult market situation.
“Suppliers must offer to supply power to a domestic household when approached by a customer, including when this requires the installation of a meter to allow supply. If supplier actions put consumers at risk of supply disruption, and when we have evidence that this is the case, we will take action. “
* Not his real name
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