Northern Electric to pipe ‘10%’ of NE gas on day 1

Northern Electric says it is poised to win over one tenth of domestic gas customers across the North-east which, along with Scotland, is opening up to competitive supply from November 1.

The Newcastle-based utility company expects to have secured at least 75,000 out of 800,000 possible gas customers in the region by this weekend’s “switch-over” date, when the monopoly of British Gas-owned Centrica over domestic supply is dissolved in the two regions.

In total, Northern Electric claims to have secured 120,000 customers across 2.5 million households in the two deregulating regions.

Indications of healthy sales from other rivals to Centrica in the regions suggest “day-one” customer loss for the British Gas subsidiary will easily exceed the 12 per cent registered in areas of Britain already opened up to competition.

The gas supply regulator, Ofgas, estimates that 400,000 out of 2.5 million households across Scotland and the North-east have already signed up with British Gas rivals.

Calortex, the leading independent supplier in the two pilot regions already opened to competition (the South-west and Kent and Sussex), declined to release figures on its sign-up rates in the regions ahead of the switch-over date.

ScottishPower also declines to confirm reports that it has signed up 100,000 gas households.

The apparent sales rush has occurred despite a wave of complaints alleging aggressive sales tactics by licensed suppliers (MW October 16). Ofgas has issued warnings about the operation of door-to-door salesmen in the region fraudulently offering cheap gas.

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