'My energy company is refusing to connect my new home' – BBC

By David Delday and Rob Flett
BBC Scotland, Orkney

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Energy company refusing to connect my new home
For Pauline Sinclair, building a new home has always been her dream, but finishing it has become a nightmare.
Despite the house in Orkney being almost ready to move in to, the date of fitting her electricity meter on 8 August has been changed to next year.
She is furious, as being without power will mean spending another winter in a caravan right next to her property.
And she is not alone, as other energy customers are reporting similar difficulties with meter installations.
One builder said it could become a serious issue.
"It's so frustrating," Mrs Sinclair told BBC Scotland News.
"The house is almost finished, we're wind and watertight and ready to move to the next stage – we're just devastated."
She said she had been told the meter would not now be installed until July next year.
"The prospect of staying in the caravan for another winter is not good," she said.
A few miles away from Mrs Sinclair's new house, Stephen Kemp also has a problem with power.
He is developing much needed new affordable housing in Kirkwall.
The first phase of energy efficient homes for social rent are almost finished and the meter cupboards inside the front door have all the cables in place – but no electricity meters connected to them.
Mr Kemp, managing director of Orkney Builders (Contractors) Ltd, said none of the energy supply companies will supply the connection he needs to complete the houses so the first tenants can move in.
He said: "I know from other developers elsewhere they are down to one or two suppliers who will provide new meters.
"The thing is, that's dwindling by the day now. We're finding day by day every supplier's dropping off and telling us the the same story – that they have taken the corporate decision to no longer provide new energy connections.
"So it's potentially an enormous problem."
So why is this happening?
Frazer Scott, chief executive officer from Energy Action Scotland, said the rising cost of energy is making energy companies reluctant to take on new customers.
He said suppliers may be dodging their responsibilities until the market changes and new business becomes profitable again.
"There really ought to be something that's done to provide a guarantee to housebuilders, to social landlords who are providing affordable housing, there is something there to ensure there is a supply of energy when properties are complete," he said.
The energy industry is represented by Energy UK.
It pointed to the "record-high international wholesale gas costs over the past year which has led to 30 suppliers going out of business because they were unable to recoup their costs".
Energy UK said: "In this volatile situation, it is a decision for suppliers as to whether they take on new commercial contracts with businesses and what terms they offer."
The energy regulator Ofgem said suppliers must offer to supply a domestic household once approached by a customer, including where this necessitates the installation of a meter to enable supply.
"We have been clear about our expectations in this area," Ofgem said.
But, as Mrs Sinclair is finding, offering an electricity supply to her new home and following through to install it are two different things.
Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael has written to the regulator calling the current situation a 'textbook example of market failure".
He is demanding Ofgem takes urgent enforcement against the energy suppliers to reduce the stress householders are experiencing with their energy supplies.
Scottish Power confirmed it made a commercial decision earlier this year to stop accepting any commercial requests for new meter connections across the UK.
It said: "We're continuing to honour all commercial business previously accepted, which is more than three years' work, and we continue to complete hundreds of new connections every week.
"As the energy market operates as an open market, requests for new connections can be made to other energy suppliers."
However, with most of the remaining energy suppliers now taking a similar stance, it appears that open market is now closing the door on new energy connections.
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