Ofgem (the electricity and gas regulator) introduced rules in 2010 to protect Micro businesses with regard to the provisions of contract terms and conditions, and on contract roll-over. Before entering into a contract the supplier must explain the key terms and conditions to the Micro business and must make it clear that the contract is binding, regardless of how the contract may be agreed i.e. online, over the phone or in person. Within 10 days of a contract being agreed, or an existing contract being extended the Micro business should receive a written copy in plain language of the full terms and conditions and a statement of renewal terms. Approximately 60 calendar days (but no longer than 120 calendar days) before the end of the fixed term period, suppliers must send Micro businesses a statement of renewal terms and details of the key terms and conditions which apply.
(As of April 2013 Ofgem is considering extending these requirements to Small Businesses as part of their Retail Market Review).
Why do you ask about a Change of Tenancy?
Companies that move into a new premise do not have consumption history and it is therefore important to let suppliers know this.Certain suppliers offer Price Plans on a short term basis (helping to avoid “deeming” or “out-of-contract” arrangements) that allow a new tenant to gather consumption history and then select a Price Plan to suit. By confirming that you have just had a change of tenancy then the supplier also knows that your consumption figure is an estimate and will be better prepared to manage any shortfall or over use at the property.
What are MPAN and MPRN, and where can I get these?
The MPAN relates to your electricity supply and is the Meter Point Administration Number, it is unique to the property.It is found on the electricity bill issued by your current electricity supplier. If you cannot find it then contact your current electricity supplier quoting your customer reference number and ask them for a note of your MPAN number.
The MPRN relates to your gas supply and is the Meter Point Reference Number, again it is unique to the property. It is found on the gas bill issued by your current gas supplier. If you cannot find it the contact your current gas supplier quoting your customer reference number and ask them for a note of your MPRN.
If I do change supplier, will any of my supply equipment need changed?
No. Your gas and electricity will still be supplied to you through your existing equipment. The only difference will be who sends you the bill.
Who is responsible for safety and maintenance?
Maintaining the safety of your energy supplies remain with your regional supplier. If you have any problem concerning the physical aspects of your energy supply then you should call your regional supplier direct.
If I am not happy with my Supplier who should I complain too?
In the first instance you should complain to the Supplier. They should have a complaints procedure. If you are still not happy then you can direct your complaint to Ombudsman Services at www.ombudsman-services.org
Who currently supplies my energy?
Look at your most recent bill or speak to the previous occupier. If you are still unable to find the name of your Supplier than you should contact Transco on 0870 608 1524 (for Gas) and your Regional Electricity Company (for Electricity)
Where do I find my Contract End Date and why is this so important?
The first place to look is in your contract with your current supplier. If you cannot find it there or cannot find your contract then contact your current supplier quoting your customer reference number, they should be able to confirm the Contract End Date to you. It is very important that you know this date if you want to change your supply. If you quote the wrong date your supply application can and will likely be rejected. If you wait too long it may be possible that your supply arrangements will automatically renew and then you may have to pay a termination fee if you want to move your supply. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT YOU KNOW YOUR CONTRACT END DATE.
What is the Supply Type and how do I know what my Supply Type is?
The Supply Type is simply a generic name given by the suppliers to the type of supply arrangements at your property. There are a number of Supply Types and these relate to the level of consumption, the way the energy is used at the property and the manner in which the energy is metered. The most common Supply Types include Standard ( a single meter), Evening Weekend (comprising of 2 meters), Economy 7 (again comprising 2 meters) and Off-peak ( can be a multiple of meters).The Supply Type should be indicated on your bill but if not it is possible to get this from the MPAN number. If you are unsure of your Supply Type you should again contact your current supplier and ask them what type of supply you have at your property.
How soon can I apply to have a new supply deal?
The earliest you can apply for a new supply arrangement is 150 days prior to the Contract End Date of your existing supply. You should not leave applying for a supply too long as it can take up to 21 days for a new supplier to take over your supply arrangements.
How long does it take to switch suppliers?
Switching supplier can take up to 21 days.
Do I have a cooling off period?
No. As a business you do not have a cooling off period so you need to make sure that you are committed to see through your contract obligations before signing. You should therefore read your Supply Agreement very carefully to see what your obligations are and what period of time your contract will run for.
Can I terminate my Supply Contract at any time during the agreed term?
There will be termination provisions within your contract. To find out how you can terminate and what the penalties will be you should look closely at the Supply Agreement you have signed.
What is the Supply Start Date (SSD)?
This is the day your new supply will start. There may be a case when there is a gap between the Contract End Date and your SSD. In this event you may be charged on “out of contract” or “deemed” rate by your current Supplier until your new supply contract is signed. Please note these rates will normally be higher than your contracted rates. To avoid this you should apply for a new supply arrangement as early as possible and provide as much accurate information as possible.
What is Half Hourly Metering (HH) and Non Half Hourly Metering?
HH is a common term used for properties that use more than 100kW of electricity demand. The meters installed usually measure on a half hourly basis the property consumption of electricity. If you have a Half Hourly meter installed your MPAN number will normally start with 00.You should ensure that the Price Plan you select is an HH Price Plan (this will normally be stated somewhere on the description).
NHH is a common term used for properties that use less than 100kW of electricity demand. The meters are usually manually read or more can be AMRs (Automatic Meter Readings).The MPAN codes will likely start with 03 to 08.Again you should check that any Price Plan you select does not have HH in the name or description.
What are “out of contract” or “deemed” rates?
These rates are higher than what you would consider normal market rates. They usually apply to businesses that are either new to a property or have terminated their existing contract but failed to switch supplier. The upside, if there is one, is that it only takes a maximum of 28 days notice to switch from this arrangement on to something cheaper.
Am I exempt from paying CCL?
You should contact HMRC to find out if you have an exemption. Call them on 0845 010 9000
What rate of VAT should I be charged for my gas or electricity?
VAT on electricity and gas for business is charged at the normal VAT rate applicable i.e. as of the 2nd April 2013 this rate is 20%. There are exceptions where businesses are charge VAT at a lesser rate (5%):
Businesses which meet the ‘De minimis’ requirements:
Use on average no more than 33kWh/day of electricity and/or less than 5 therms (145kWh/day) of gas;
What are FiT charges and why do I pay for them?
Owners of properties utilising micro-generation renewable technologies receive a subsidy for the energy they generate, this subsidy is paid for by adding a levy on every unit of energy bought by everyone who uses electricity. Up until April 2012, all electricity suppliers had to charge FiTs to their business and residential customers, but most suppliers billed the FiT levy as part of the unit rates, so it was in effect hidden in the bill. However, due to recent increases to the levy, some suppliers have decided to start passing the FiTs charges on to customers direct.
In order to provide you an accurate comparison we take the suppliers position on FiT charges into account when providing Annual Estimated Cost. Some suppliers include FiT charges in their unit rates and some separate out the FIT charges, we calculate the Annual Estimated Cost with FiT charges included in order to keep all things equal. Please note that you may be billed separately for FiT charges but this has been included in our Annual Estimated Cost
What is the Climate Change Levy (CCL)?
The Climate Change Levy (CCL) is a government tax on the use of energy by business, agriculture and the public sector; it applies to both gas and electricity. It does not apply to fuel used by the domestic or transport sector, or fuels used for the production of other forms of energy and for non-energy businesses.
What is Green Energy?
Green Energy is the general term for electricity that has been generated in a sustainable way. In the future it might be possible to buy sustainably produced gas or heat. Green Energy can be produced by various renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar and hydropower.
What does Green Energy Cost?
Most suppliers charge an additional amount per kilowatt-hour on green energy as opposed to brown energy (regular energy). However, customers will not pay climate change levy on green energy and at best it can prove to be a cost-neutral exercise, i.e. refund of CCL equals cost of green premium on unit price.
Do I need a special connection for Green Energy?
No, the electricity from your wall plug remains the same as the origin of electricity cannot be detected. However, your supplier will guarantee that electricity you buy has been produced from renewable energy sources.
What is ROC?
Under the Renewables Obligation Scheme, all licensed electricity suppliers are required to supply an increasing proportion of electricity from renewable sources in each 12 month “obligation period”.
Under this obligation order, energy regulator OFGEM issues a Renewable Obligation Certificate (ROC) for each MWH of electricity generated from an eligible source.
A supplier can comply with the obligation in one of two ways, or by a combination of both. It can present sufficient ROCS to meet its obligation or it can use the buy-out price to OFGEM for each MWH of its obligation for which a ROC is not held.
To find out how you and your business can benefit give us a call on 01903 251270, we look forward to helping you.