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Bord Gáis Energy welcomes new Energy Engage Code

05.06.14

Bord Gáis Energy, together with Pat Rabbitte TD, Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources and the Electricity Association of Ireland (EAI) have launched a voluntary new Energy Engage Code to help customers in arrears and at risk of disconnection to engage with their energy supplier.

The Energy Engage Code was launched along with managing directors of the participating Energy Supply companies: Bord Gáis Energy, Electric Ireland, Energia, Flogas Natural Gas and SSE Airtricity. The launch, which took place at the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, Sean MacDermott Street, Dublin 1, was also being attended by Tom McSweeney, National Vice Chair, Saint Vincent de Paul, and Owen Wilson, Chief Executive, Electricity Association of Ireland (EAI).

The Energy Engage Code is a coordinated industry-led approach to further assisting customers in arrears and at risk of disconnection. The key principle underpinning the Code is a firm commitment by Suppliers that they will never disconnect an engaging customer.

Currently all Suppliers have their own individual approaches to address arrears. For all companies the disconnection of energy supply for non-payment is used only as a last resort. To date Suppliers have so far succeeded in installing over 140,000 Pay- As-You-Go meters for electricity and natural gas customers. The combined effect of Supplier measures has been to reduce electricity and gas disconnections by 31% and 16% respectively in 2013 compared with the previous year*.

With the launch of The Energy Engage Code, Suppliers are further aiming to progressively reduce electricity and gas disconnections to an absolute minimum. The coordinated Energy Engage principles will help customers resolve the difficulties that arise when they begin to accumulate arrears and include a firm commitment from participating Suppliers to:

  • Never disconnect an engaging customer†
  • Provide every opportunity to customers to avoid disconnection
  • Establish new early ways of identifying customers at risk and targeting communication with these customers to encourage early engagement.
  • Treat customers as individuals, recognising no two customers face the same circumstances.
  • Offer a range of debt repayment options in order to find the most appropriate solution for a customer in arrears including realistic and achievable payment plans.
  • Always offer a customer in arrears a PAYG meter as an alternative to disconnection, where a network solution is available.
  • Introduce a new individual case review in advance of any customer being disconnected.
  • Put in place clear processes for interaction with customer representatives and support agencies acting on behalf of a customer, such as the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS).

In addition to this commitment, Suppliers are integrating enhanced measures into all debt management processes including improved communications with customers and support agencies and a range of debt management and repayment options.

Editor’s Notes:

†The Energy Engage Code defines an engaging customer as a customer who is:

  • communicating with their Supplier directly or through a third party representative and,
  • genuinely working to clear arrears on their account and manage current charges through a payment plan, Pay-As-You-Go meter or other means agreed with their Supplier.

* The latest Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) report shows that electricity and gas disconnections fell by 31% and 16% respectively in 2013 when compared with 2012.  This demonstrates that the measures suppliers have been taking, including the provision of PAYG meters, are already having a very positive impact in decreasing disconnections. In 2013, there was a significant increase in installation of Pay-As-You-Go meters with Suppliers succeeding in removing over 26,000 electricity customers and 15,000 gas customers in financial hardship from the disconnection process. While the industry average for electricity disconnections in 2013 was 50 per 10,000 customers, a large proportion (estimated at approximately 40%) of disconnected properties are vacant. As a result the underlying level of disconnection in 2013 for non-payment of account was approximately 30 per 10,000 customers (0.3%), with 99.7% of customers not at risk of disconnection. 

For further press information contact:

Neil O’Gorman, Consultant, Pembroke Communications, (01) 649 6376 or (087) 2077192.
neil.ogorman@pembrokecomms.ie / @IrishMediaWatch / @NeilOGorman

Sarah Doyle, Senior Account Executive, Pembroke Communications, (01) 649 6430 or (087) 953 0551
Sarah.Doyle@pembrokecomms.ie / @IrishMediaWatch / @burntheblonde