Standards apply to all electricity suppliers (referred to as ‘operators’ in the context of the legislation). Some of these standards also overlap with the responsibilities placed upon electricity distributors. Suppliers provide online information and leaflets describing them – some may also include additional standards which the supplier has set for itself. The standards set down by the law cover:
•failure of the distributor’s fuse;
•restoring supply where disconnection was the supplier’s fault;
•providing a supply;
•providing an estimate of charges for connection of a supply or moving a meter;
•giving notice when the supplier has to interrupt a supply;
•dealing with voltage complaints;
•dealing with meter disputes;
•responding to complaints about prepayment meters not working;
•responding to requests or queries about charges or payments;
•making and keeping appointments;
•giving notice to consumers of their rights under this scheme.
Where there is a dispute over the application of the standards or entitlement to compensation, the regulations set out the procedure to be followed once the matter has been referred to Ofgem.1ss39, 39A and 39B EA 1989; Sch 3 E(SP) Regs
Minimum periods and compensation
The standards require actions to be carried out within a certain time frame. Failure to do so entitles you to a fixed sum, from £30 for three hours on a working day and four hours at a weekend (for most matters) up to £75 and with payments in respect of each 12 hours.2Reg 11(3) and Sch 2 EG(SP) Regs The payment from suppliers is limited to one payment per household and not linked to the number of customers affected where less than 5,000 customers are affected and a power cut arises as a result of a fault or failure in ordinary conditions.3Reg 5 E(SP) Regs Where more than 5,000 customers are affected and the supply is interrupted as a result of a failure of, fault in or damage to the distribution system, the maximum compensation is £300.4Reg 6(2) E(SP) Regs
Standard payments are normally maximum payments, though they may be increased at the discretion of the energy supplier.
If failure to meet the standards causes you to lose more than £30 or £75, you can still claim the larger amount. If necessary, you can go to court. If there is any dispute between you and the supplier over these standards or the payments, contact Citizens Advice consumer service for advice. A dispute resolution process is set out in the Regulations.5Reg 11 EG(SP) Regs Your ultimate remedy would be a claim in the civil courts.
Under the Guaranteed Standards Payment Scheme, where severe weather conditions leave you without power for 48 hours, you are entitled to £75 and a further £75, for every additional 12 hours, up to a maximum of £700 from distributors.6Reg 7 E(SP) Regs
Compensation during severe weather conditions is sometimes different to the standard payment scheme. For example, following storm Arwen in November 2021, one network operator increased statutory payments by 20 per cent and removed the £700 cap. Another paid £150 per household on top of the statutory payment for customers without supply for over 48 hours. Electricity network operators also offered to recompensate reasonable expenses for accommodation costs.
Where a supplier fails to pay you for failure to meet a standard within 10 working days, an additional payment of £30 (known as an ‘additional standard payment’) must be made.7Reg 8(2) EG(SP)S Regs However, it is important to note that payments made by a supplier are only made in respect of a premises, not the number of customers within those premises, who may be adversely affected or who may be named on the bill. Where a supplier has made the necessary payment or payments (in the case of an additional standard payment) it is taken as having discharged its obligations to all customers.8Reg 8(5) EG(SP)S Regs The customer who is in receipt of the payment may request payment to be made in a particular way, including by cheque or electronic transfer. Although the supplier is not obliged to make payment in the way requested, the supplier must not unreasonably withhold payment in that way.9Reg 8(7) EG(SP)S Regs These provisions may not apply to customers living on islands where the supply is provided on or under the sea-bed and no alternative means is available to the distributor.10Reg 9(3) EG(SP) Regs