Smart meter users could be moved to ‘pay-as-you-go’ if they cancel direct debits

By Paul Homewood

h/t Ian Magness

Just another reminder of how smart meters will control our energy use:

Households with smart meters could find themselves moved onto prepayment plans without their consent if they refuse to pay their energy bills.

A growing movement to shun rising energy bills in the autumn has gathered momentum, however, participants could find themselves forced to pay for energy up front within weeks.

Don’t Pay UK, a campaign group, has urged households to stop paying energy bills from Oct 1. More than 100,000 people have “pledged” to withhold payment. Households traditionally pay for energy in arrears, settling bills via direct debit or on a monthly or quarterly basis.

However, energy companies can switch smart meter users to prepayment with minimal notice and not have to enter a home.

More than half of all meters are either smart or advanced, according to the most recent Government statistics. Roughly 14 million households could therefore have meters changed remotely.

Providers have historically had to obtain a warrant to enter households and replace a meter with a prepayment alternative – where customers must add credit to their account before being allowed to use gas and electricity.

This is a significantly longer and more expensive process, but 61,000 warrants were still issued last year despite these obstacles, a Freedom of Information request has shown.

The need for a warrant does not apply when suppliers are switching smart meters to prepayment mode remotely. However, Ofgem, the energy regulator, has said suppliers must give customers four weeks to settle debts, and a further week’s notice before switching.


August 12, 2022