Ofgem has confirmed its plans to implement a price cap on installing prepayment meters under warrant - an interim measure until smart meters are rolled out across Great Britain.
In July, Ofgem proposed a series of measures to help vulnerable customers – including this price cap.
The proposal had been out for consultation, but the energy regulator can now confirm these plans will go ahead and be implemented from January 2018.
The cap of £150 is for the warrant suppliers charge consumers for the force-fitting of prepayment metres, for debt recovery purposes, which is currently around £210 according to Ofgem research.
Ofgem explained how companies are expected to use warrants as a last resort, but the regulator believes suppliers can do more to avoid warrants where possible, including better identification of consumers in vulnerable situations throughout the debt recovery process.
Under current rules, energy suppliers can apply through the courts for a warrant of entry, which allows them to forcibly enter a customer’s property. Additional charges, including the costs of court action, can then be recovered from the customer, along with the original debt.
Joanna Elson OBE, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, said: “Ofgem’s decision is a welcome one as it provides further protection for energy customers who may be in a vulnerable situation. Installing a prepayment meter under warrant is often a traumatic experience which can leave people with a larger debt to repay.
“These new rules provide a strong incentive for all energy suppliers to make every effort to identify and support people in debt.”