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Author Topic: what are the legalities of meter running backwards?  (Read 5029 times)
Ivan
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« on: February 27, 2014, 01:07:29 AM »

We did an installation for a friend in the very early days of FITs. We suspected his meter ran backwards, but it wasn't sunny when we did the installation, so we couldn't be sure. The DNO was notified at the time of installation that we suspected it ran backwards. The bill payer neither knew or cared, and a couple of years later, the DNO has changed his meter. However the electricity supplier has tried to charge him for their 'estimate' of his usage over the whole period. He's not happy with this (not least of all because they have estimated the PV system has generated around 4x the maximum it could possibly have done, and run 100% of this backwards through the meter). They have more recently estimated his daily usage based on his consumption over the December/January period, and used this to estimate his usage over the last two years (obviously taking advantage of the fact that the PV system is running at its lowest output throughout this period) - and refused to consider anything else.

My question is - what legal right have they to charge him based on estimated usage? If a supplier can enforce a bill based on guesstimate usage - what's the point of having Ofgem approved meters at all? As the customer himself points out - he has paid a significant amount of money over the last 30years to cover the metering costs - if the meter does not read correctly, should he be entitled to a refund of this money? Also, is there any mileage in his asking for proof that the meter was in calibration (and therefore that the fault might lie in the fact that the meter has been relied on for 30years whilst out of calibration)?

My view is that the DNO were aware that a PV system was installed (Through the G83/1 notification). They would be aware of what meter was fitted to the property (as they own and maintain it). They were also negligent in not having replaced it years ago (I believe that all the meters which are capable of spinning backwards should have been phased out years ago), and they should be aware that the installer notified them of a possibility that the meter may run backwards. The supply company has a contract with the DNO - so they should approach the DNO for recompense, rather than the bill payer.
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dhaslam
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« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2014, 01:47:47 AM »

Shouldn't  the negative readings in summer have shown up  as an error if the meter was read regularly?     

I would have thought that estimates  would have to be agreed  between both parties, it wouldn't be legally enforceable to  collect an estimate made by one party to a transaction.   A common exception would be  Income Tax which has specific legislation to allow estimates to be legally collectable and even then they have to be within reason.         
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regen
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« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2014, 06:37:29 AM »

"The bill payer neither knew or cared"

But will the judge believe him!

I got away with it for just over a year but I had informed my SUPPLIER in writing within 3 months of installation.

Frankly, wether legal or not they are both at fault- the supplier for not visually reading the meter in the period and the user for not checking why he was so much in credit vs his standing order. 

Presumably he is in credit to the company for a large sum so they will just scoop that up-job done! If not then how is it possible to get leccy for 2 years plus without a proper reading, not pay any money and not be cut off.

I am with Western power but I am sure my old meter said property of SWalec (my old supplier)

I think I would make them a rediculously low offer to counter their very high estimate.

Regen

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Bodidly
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« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2014, 07:07:18 AM »

I think Ted has previously pointed out a line in some documentation that amounts to something like the system being fit for purpose. DNO have been informed so not the home owners fault but theirs. I can't find it bookmarked as on old computer but I would PM Ted.

My parents system is 3 years old and still has a backwards spinner. British Gas were informed twice. The chap came out looks at meter says I could change it but that one would go backwards as well  facepalm 2 years go by then they come out to fit a smart meter but no mobile signal so old meter left in place.

You wonder how much money these firms would make if they were run efficiently as they don't do to bad now.

Beau
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Stig
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« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2014, 07:59:43 AM »

I'd agree that the supplier is way out of line here.  It's something that concerns me personally as it took SSE two years to replace my meter despite being told by me in writing that it might need changing.  I was told that SSE would estimate my usage from the first month's reading of the new meter -in mid winter again though I was assured they'd seasonally adjust it.  It took them a month to acknowledge my meter reading so I've still not heard what they plan to charge me.

I've already decided that the most I'd accept is what I used the year before PV installation minus half my generation as they deem that I export 50%.  Any more than that and I'm going to argue and escalate to the ombudsman if necessary.  After all it's their fault, not mine.

I did a bit of digging about this and found this which may be useful to your customer:
http://www.consumerfocus.org.uk/files/2010/01/Back-billing-leaflet-2012.pdf
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brackwell
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« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2014, 08:15:00 AM »

I believe it is a point of law that you cannot pursue an estimated debt only a actual one.  They would have to PROVE a actual loss. There was a test case perhaps 2 yrs ago where the supplier were pursuing a bill based on a estimated reading,it went to court and the supplier demonstrably lost.

As a consumer i do not have to be aware of anything to do with meters in any shape or form. The meter belongs to the DNO and it is their responsibility to ensure it is ft for purpose.

The supplier stands zero chance.

Ken
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BruceB
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« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2014, 08:35:36 AM »

My recollection is that there is a code of practice that says the electricity suppliers can only go back one year provided the consumer has behaved properly.  No doubt Ted will be along to give chapter and verse.

Edit: I have not read it in detail but think this is relevant
http://www.energy-uk.org.uk/publication/finish/43-code-of-practice-for-accurate-bills/412-the-code-of-practice-for-accurate-bills-back-billing-for-domestic-customers.html
« Last Edit: February 27, 2014, 08:38:29 AM by BruceB » Logged
Ted
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« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2014, 10:31:52 AM »

I think in this situation the crux is whether the customer has 'behaved properly'. If they have told the supplier that the meter runs backwards then there can really be no issue. If they haven't then it is going to be more open to question. If they have prevented meter readings when requested then it will be difficult.

The regs (the ESQCRs) state:

Quote
3.  (1)  Generators, distributors and meter operators shall ensure that their equipment is—

(a) sufficient for the purposes for and the circumstances in which it is used;

and

Quote
24.  (1)  A distributor or meter operator shall ensure that each item of his equipment which is on a consumer’s premises but which is not under the control of the consumer (whether forming part of the consumer’s installation or not) is—

(a)suitable for its purpose;

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2002/2665/made

so the customer can argue that this has not been complied with through no fault of his own.
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Tiff
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« Reply #8 on: February 27, 2014, 11:04:48 AM »


The supplier was not notified in this case, the DNO is a seperate company, is not responsible for the meter and as far as I am aware has no responsibility to notify the supply company.

The meter will be maintained by a meter operator, in some instances this is a sub division of the DNO - just to make it confusing.

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JohnS
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« Reply #9 on: February 27, 2014, 12:03:01 PM »

Presumably the meters, both import and generation, have been read since the PV was installed.

The meter reader should have looked/checked etc
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garethpuk
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« Reply #10 on: February 27, 2014, 07:28:06 PM »

Do the numbers actually go backwards? Today is the first time I've been at home since our panels went up and I've had time to look at the meter while the sun has been shining, the disc does turn backwards but stops dead after less than a turn, turning on a heater makes it spin forwards but as soon as it's turned off the disc starts to move backwards briefly before stopping again.

There is a small ratchet symbol on the meter and I assumed it indicated the meter won't count backwards even if the disc spins backwards, it's worth checking yours.
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oliver90owner
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« Reply #11 on: February 27, 2014, 08:37:47 PM »

Some meters could have no or faulty ratchets.

One thought here is:  What if an immersun had been installec to mop up most of any over-production?  May be cheaper to install one now to deflect any claims by the supplier? 

Just a devious thought Grin

RAB


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dan_b
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« Reply #12 on: February 28, 2014, 10:55:06 AM »

They did on my backwards-spinner. Unfortunately for me my electric company were extremely keen to swap it out for a new one once I'd (reluctantly) notified them - took them less than a month.

Do the numbers actually go backwards? Today is the first time I've been at home since our panels went up and I've had time to look at the meter while the sun has been shining, the disc does turn backwards but stops dead after less than a turn, turning on a heater makes it spin forwards but as soon as it's turned off the disc starts to move backwards briefly before stopping again.

There is a small ratchet symbol on the meter and I assumed it indicated the meter won't count backwards even if the disc spins backwards, it's worth checking yours.
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