Floods end up doubling Bill’s electricity bill

Photo Neil Cross
Bill Lenehan of Kellet Court, Lancaster, noticed his electricity meter had been charging him higher tarrifs after the power went off during the floods

Photo Neil Cross Bill Lenehan of Kellet Court, Lancaster, noticed his electricity meter had been charging him higher tarrifs after the power went off during the floods

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Lancaster residents are being warned they could be paying more for their electricity following the power cuts in December.

Bill Lenehan, who lives in a small flat in the city centre, heats his home at night using the much cheaper night time tariff.

It costs him 6p a unit to heat his home at night, and 20p a unit during the day.

But when he recently went to read his electricity meter, he noticed it was showing the wrong time, 6am instead of 12pm, and realised he had very likely been paying the day time tariff for heating his home at night.

The river Lune broke its banks on December 5 2015 and flooded the city’s electricty substation, causing power outages across the district for three days.

After checking the meter and realising the error in June, Mr Leneham was informed that his usage had more than doubled. He complained to his energy provider EDF who sent someone out to check the issue, and eventually reset his meter.

The company has since apologised for the error.

Mr Lenehan said: “Obviously the meter was stopped for three days over Christmas and restarted at a random time when the power was back on.

“If I’ve had this problem, there must be thousands of people across Lancaster who have Dual Tariff who may be in a similar situation.

“Alternatively it could mean that people are paying nothing or very little to heat their homes.”

An EDF Energy spokesperson said: “Mr Lenehan contacted EDF Energy on June 1 2016 to advise that the time switch on his Economy 7 electricity meter was incorrect by six hours, likely to be the result of a power cut in December 2015.

“We arranged for a meter operative to visit Mr Lenehan’s property on June 13.

“We would like to apologise to Mr Lenehan for any inconvenience caused...and we will be offering compensation for this error.

“We understand Mr Lenehan’s concerns with regards to his tariff payments, given that the time switch on the Economy 7 meter may have been incorrect since December 2015. Any overpayment made by Mr Lenehan will be reimbursed.”

For me it’s 6pm a unit at night, and 20p during the day, so a fairly major difference.

These things happen and you would have thought EDF would have sent someone round, or sent letters out to people.

He checked with his electricity provider EDF, who sent someone out to read his meter, and eventually reset it

He says that the power cuts following the floods in December caused his meter to stop at a random time, and start back up again.

I read my electricity meter yesterday and noticed that the day/night tariff meter was showing the wrong time. 6.00 in the morning when it was actually 12.00 noon.

Additional background points:

Customers with an Economy 7 meter are charged two different rates for their electricity – peak and off peak. Electricity used during a seven hour period at night is off peak and is charged at a lower rate.

The resolution of power cuts is the responsibility of the Distribution Network Operator, in this case, North West Ltd. Suppliers are generally only notified of power cuts by the Distribution Operator if the meter equipment itself is flooded, in which case we would visit the property to check the meter.

Once we have visited Mr Lenehan’s property on 1 July to examine and reset the time switch on his Economy 7 meter, we will have a better understanding of the cause of the issue. We will then be able to look into whether other customers in the area may have been affected.

We are unable to comment on whether other energy companies reset timers of Economy 7 meters after the floods in the Lancaster area in December 2015 as we do not have access to this information.