You have the right to be connected to the gas network by a gas transporter (see Chapter 1). Gas mains and service pipes are owned by gas transporters. There are a number of gas transporters, but National Grid Gas is the main one. A gas transporter has a statutory duty to connect your premises to the gas mains if:
•you are the owner or occupier (an ‘occupier’ is a person who occupies any premises legally, whether or not s/he pays rent or some other charge); and
•the premises are within 23 metres of the nearest gas main.
Where there is an existing domestic supply, you obtain a contract by contacting the gas supplier. Under SLC 22, a gas supplier must offer to enter into a gas supply contract with you after receiving a request. The offer must be made ‘within a reasonable time’ of receiving the request.
A domestic supply contract or a deemed contract must include:1Condition 22.5 SLC; Electricity and Gas (Internal Markets) Regulations 2011 No.2704
•the identity and address of the supplier; and
•the services provided (including any maintenance services) and any service quality levels to be met; and
•if a connection is required, when that connection will take place; and
•the means by which up to date information on all applicable tariffs and any maintenance charges may be obtained; and
•any conditions for renewal of the contract.
If there is no existing supply, you must inform the transporter in writing that you require a supply of gas at the premises concerned (there will normally be a standard form). You are charged for the costs of connecting your premises to the network (see here) unless you choose to have independent contractors do the work for you (see here).2s10(1)(b) GA 1986; see also condition 4B Gas Transporters SLC All gas suppliers are under an obligation to supply gas under a contract to new customers (ie, owners or occupiers who request a supply) whose premises are already connected to the gas mains either directly or by a service pipe. The ‘obligation to supply’ is a condition of each supplier’s licence. You cannot enforce the obligation to supply without the help of Ofgem because it is contained in the supplier’s licence rather than in legislation. All gas suppliers must publish the principal terms of the contracts available from them and bring them to the attention of customers.3Condition 23.1 SLC These cover the terms and conditions under which gas is supplied and are regulated by conditions within the supplier’s licence regulated by Ofgem. If you have been supplied under the terms of a contract initially, the supplier must continue to supply you until either the contract comes to an end or it is terminated. A gas supplier continues to supply gas under the terms of a deemed contract if your contract has come to an end (see here).4Conditions 7 and 23.2 SLC A deemed contract must not: •have a fixed-term period for the contract to run or have a termination fee;5Condition 7.6A SLCor
•require you to give notice before you are able to switch supplier, except where there is a change in ownership of the premises. The supplier must invite you to enter into a further contract to run immediately following the expiry or termination of your existing contract.
The obligation on a gas supplier to supply you with gas under the terms of a deemed contract could also arise if a supplier is ordered to do so by Ofgem. Ofgem has the power to suspend or revoke a supplier’s licence. If this happens, or if a supplier is unable to continue to supply gas (eg, if it goes into liquidation), Ofgem can order an alternative supplier to supply you instead.
There are minimum standards for supply, distribution and reconnection of gas, under the Gas (Standards of Performance) Regulations 2005 and the Electricity and Gas (Standards of Performance) (Suppliers) Regulations 2015. Such an order is treated as the equivalent of a judgment in the County Court in England and Wales or as if it were an extract registered decree arbitral bearing a warrant for execution issued by the Sheriff’s Court.6s39B (4)(a) and (b) EA 1989