British Gas has launched the first online tariff for prepayment meters and is testing 10,000 new pay-as-you-go units in consumers’ homes.
It is hoped that the move will help tackle fuel poverty. It follows yesterday’s (June 24) meeting between the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform’s select committee and bosses from the “big six” energy suppliers.
The EnergyPOINT units are self-installed and plug into a phone line. Each unit dials a freephone number that connects to the consumer’s bank. Money is then deducted from the bank account and credited to the electricity key on the device. It is hoped the units will be made widely available to consumers this summer.
Patrick New, British Gas head of commercial for Pay As You Go Energy, says the units will help consumers to keep track of spending and he expects that they will be especially attractive to working people or those with children.
British Gas claims that the new tariff, Click Pay As You Go Energy, will save prepayment customers 6% compared to offline prices. The utility giant is the first energy retailer to offer in-home electricity top up units.
British Gas has 2 million Pay As You Go Energy customers and is piloting a trial of prepayment smart meters in Manchester. Its rival e.on began a trial of 7,000 energy saving smart meters in consumers’ homes in April this year (MW April 3).
The BERR select committee launched its inquiry into the energy market in May this year. It is understood that prepayment meters were one of the areas discussed in yesterday’s meeting.