Ofgem stated: “The focus of today’s decisions are on protections for householders. Smart metering allows suppliers to remotely switch customers from credit to prepayment and to disconnect customers remotely. Existing regulations need to be updated so that consumers can be confident of the same levels of protection in a smart meter world, as now. Suppliers will only be able to switch a meter to prepayment mode where it is safe and reasonably practicable for the customer to use a prepayment meter. Suppliers will also need to make thorough checks on vulnerability if they are considering whether to switch the customer to prepayment mode or disconnect them for non-payment.”
The regulator also wants to make sure that consumers “do not face any barriers to switching because of any issues with the compatibility of meters with different suppliers.” Ofgem plans to consult separately on safeguards later this summer. Until then, consumer protection legislation, requires suppliers to explain to customers their continued right to switch and issues they may face with switching.
In addition, Ofgem has also reminded suppliers that if they offer smart meters then they must also provide customers with all relevant information about the data which they will collect and any rights which customers have to opt out of that data collection.
Ofgem’s statutory consultation on the enhanced obligations and new licence conditions is available at http://ww.ofgem.gov.uk/Sustainability/SocAction/Publications/Pages/Publications.aspx