When you can be refused a supply
Electricity suppliers may refuse to supply electricity, refuse to connect a supply to new premises, disconnect an existing supply, or refuse to reconnect a supply which has been disconnected. Disconnection for arrears is dealt with in Chapter 8.
You may be refused a supply for a number of reasons. Some of these reasons applying to tariff suppliers were set out in the Electricity Act 1989, but grounds for refusal are now set out in the SLCs for contract suppliers. All of the following reasons apply.
•You refuse to take a supply on the terms offered.
•You have not paid your bill for any electricity supplied, standing charges, meters and any connection charges within 28 working days of the date of the bill (see here). You are entitled to two working days’ notice of disconnection. Your supply may only be disconnected in relation to the premises where the debt arose.1Sch 4 para 2(1) UA 2000 Every supplier is required to have a code of practice on payment of bills, including procedures to deal with customers who have difficulty paying (see here).2Condition 27.5 SLC The terms of your supplier’s code could protect you from disconnection by setting out alternatives.
•You did not pay your bill for any of the above charges at your previous address. The supplier may refuse to connect a supply at your new address. The supplier is not entitled to payment of your arrears from the next occupier of your previous address. Similarly, you cannot be held liable for debts left by previous occupiers of your new address.
•You have not paid a security deposit within seven days of being sent a notice requiring you to do so and the requirement of a security deposit is reasonable in the circumstances. 3Condition 22.7(c ) SLC
•You refuse to accept a supply under a ‘special agreement’ under the Electricity Act 1989.
•Your premises are already being supplied by another electricity supplier under arrangements which have not expired or been terminated.
•Supplying you with electricity would, or might be, unsafe – eg, because the wiring is in a dangerous condition.
•You refuse to take your supply through a meter.
•There has been damage or tampering to a meter and the matter has not been remedied (see Chapter 9).
•The supplier is prevented from supplying you by circumstances outside its control – eg, if it has been prevented from laying cables because of extreme weather conditions.
•It is not reasonable in all the circumstances. This is a ‘catch-all’ provision. Most disconnections or refusals to supply will be on one or more of the grounds above, but this provision might be used if those grounds no longer apply – eg, you are no longer in arrears but the supplier is insisting that you can only be supplied through a prepayment meter for future consumption. If you refuse to accept a prepayment meter, the supplier must demonstrate that disconnection is the only reasonable alternative. The supplier cannot use this catch-all provision unless it first gives you seven days’ notice of the intention to disconnect.
Where you have a prepayment meter, in addition to providing you with information about its alternative cheapest tariff, the supplier must inform you that, as a domestic customer with outstanding charges, you may be able to switch supplier by agreeing with a new supplier to have the outstanding charges ‘assigned’ – ie, transferred. Sums under £500 should be capable of such assignment.4Condition 14.6 SLC Note: suppliers are not entitled to disconnect for alleged non-payment if the amount is genuinely in dispute. ‘Genuine dispute’ means a genuine dispute between you and the licensee as to whether you are liable to pay certain charges which have been demanded by the licensee. This should be evidenced in writing.5Condition 14.12 SLC A dispute may be referred to Ofgem for determination by you or by Citizens Advice consumer service.6s39B (1)(a) and (b) EA 1989