Utilities: Fees and Charges

Trade and Industry written question – answered on 5th March 2007.

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Photo of Mike Wood Mike Wood Labour, Batley and Spen

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry to what extent energy companies use estimated readings in generating customers' bills; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Malcolm Wicks Malcolm Wicks Minister of State (Science and Innovation), Department of Trade and Industry

Estimated readings are widely used by gas and electricity suppliers, although that use varies between companies. Such readings reduce costs for suppliers and customers because they avoid the need for repeated visits to properties. On average, weighted by market shares, 88 per cent. of domestic electricity customers and 83 per cent. of domestic gas customers are billed on the basis of an actual read at least once a year.

Ofgem expects suppliers' billing performance to improve further following a number of recent measures. These are the development of billing codes of practice by all major suppliers; the establishment of an ombudsman to resolve long-running billing complaints; and the restriction to one year of a supplier's right to claim money owed by a customer if the supplier's billing processes have been at fault.

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