Small firms are being warned their electricity bills could soar due to new legislation changing how businesses are charged. The warnings come from energy broker businesselectric.com and consultancy Utilitywise.
According to Utilitywise, the regulatory change for electricity meters in classes 05-08 – known as max demand meters – affects 100,000 UK firms.
Previously, suppliers billed them based on a single reading giving annual consumption subject to an industry-agreed calculation.
Energy Secretary Greg Clark
But as of April 1, under regulation P272, a 05-08 meter will be read automatically every half hour over the year, giving the supplier 17,520 readings.
Utilitywise said this meant bills would become more accurate, but also more complicated, adding that new charges may appear.
It is also possible that firms could be charged more if they use electricity at peak times.
Businesselectric complained of a lack of user-friendly communication over business bills and requirements.
Companies with 05-08 meters need to appoint a meter operator and data collector to maintain the meter and analyse the data. If they do not and suppliers automatically allocate them to default meter operators, their bills could rise by up to an estimated £500 a year.
Small firms are being warned their electricity bills could soar due to new legislation changing how businesses are charged
Businesselectric warned that some suppliers could pass on any ‘hidden’ charges at the prevailing rate, which could double the amount a business pays and only come to light once the bill comes through the post.
Businesselectric’s managing director, Sam Allcock, said: ‘As much as this change in legislation could be a headache, firms should try to take advantage of the benefits available to them as soon as possible.
‘Shop around for the most cost-effective meter operator, because most businesses won’t be informed that they don’t necessarily need to use their energy supplier for this.’
He added: ‘It’s disheartening that [Energy Secretary] Greg Clark hasn’t yet shown as much passion to stand up to the Big Six energy providers on behalf of business [as he has done for households].’