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Why would a business’s energy supply be cut off?

Running a small business can be very demanding, with many elements to balance.

Business energy is one important element in keeping things running so any issue with or interruption to supply is not good for business.

This article explains the reasons your energy supply could be cut off and what you can do about it.

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Unpaid energy bills

Small business owners have to think about costs constantly, and energy bills can contribute significantly.

If you find yourself in financial difficulty and are unable to pay your bills, you may find yourself in arrears, which could lead to your supply being cut off.

Before things get to this stage, notify your energy supplier of your difficulties as soon as possible. There are certain regulations set by OfGem that all suppliers must follow around how to treat customers who have difficulty pay and cutting supply is a last resort.

Suppliers are required to work with you to arrange a payment plan to pay off your outstanding debts at a rate you can afford but if your outstanding bills remain unpaid, your supplier can apply for a court warrant to gain access to your meter to disconnect it.

They’ll wait at least 28 days after sending your bill before doing so and are also required to tell you in advance if they intend to apply for a warrant, as you may need to attend a court hearing on the issue. If the court decides to grant a warrant, your supplier must give you at least 7 days’ notice in writing before they disconnect you.

If your supplier does disconnect you, they’ll give you contact details to discuss paying off the debt and getting reconnected. Your supplier may add a reconnection fee, administrative costs associated with the disconnection and reconnection, or a security deposit for the money you owe. Costs incurred by your supplier in obtaining a warrant may also be added to your bill.

If you cannot meet the requirements in your payment plan, you may need to consider switching to a prepayment meter, which takes a weekly amount from your pay-as-you-go top-ups as payment for the outstanding debt.

It’s worth noting that failing to pay your business energy bills will impact on your business's credit rating which could limit the energy deals you are eligible for in the future. Click here for more information.

Other disruptions to your energy supply

Sometimes, your supply could be cut off due to circumstances beyond your control, including

  • Interruptible contract:

You may have signed an interruptible contract, which specifies that your energy supply may be cut off by the National Grid if they experience periods of high demand. Learn more about the different business energy contract available.

  • Planned power cut:

You would usually be notified in advance if your electricity supply is to be switched off while engineers carry out work close to your premises, unless it’s an emergency. You’ll also be informed when the power is expected back on. In a similar vein, you may experience an accidental disruption to your energy supply due to work carried out on nearby pipes and cables.

  • Emergency situations:

A qualified engineer may be called in to switch off your energy supply if they have concerns about health and safety, such as someone reporting a gas leak. In an emergency, you may not be notified beforehand of the disruption to your energy supply.

  • Weather:

Lightning and severe winds can damage overhead power lines, while flooding and heavy rain can mean damage to underground cables. You might also find trees that are not properly trimmed can rub against and cause damage to power lines, all of which could disrupt your energy supply.

  • Faulty meter or appliance:

If there is a problem with your meter, it will usually display a code or message about this fault – report this to your supplier as soon as possible. If you have a prepayment meter, you may simply have forgotten to top up.

  • Appliance fault

Your electricity may also be cut off due to a blown fuse – check your fuse box or fuse board for any tripped switches, and try unplugging the faulty appliance that caused the power cut. If you can’t get your electricity back through either of these measures, you may need to call a qualified electrician.

Planning for a power cut

Creating a contingency plan can help to ensure your business continues to run in the event of a power outage. Some steps you can take include:

  • Purchasing a back-up generator (also known as a Standby Power source) can mean you will only experience a few seconds of power outage, minimising the impact on your business.
  • Purchasing an Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS) device, which is also designed to provide emergency power in the event of a power failure. UPS devices have a relatively short runtime, and usually only give you enough time to shut down your computer or equipment safely. The UPS can also be used to start a Standby Power system.
  • If you have fridges or freezers in your business, keep them closed to protect perishable items – this can be effective for up to 15 hours.
  • Turn off all unessential electronic devices until your power is back on.

Your business insurance may cover you if you experience loss of revenue due to your power cut. Depending on the circumstances – including the length of the power cut, any notice you were given and how often it happens – you may also be able to claim a compensation payment from your energy supplier.

Switching energy provider or contract can help protect your costs and reduce the amount you spend on energy in the first place, lessening the chance of not being able to pay your bills.

Our dedicated energy experts are available Monday – Friday to compare the market and show you how much you could save.

Fill out the form or call us on 0800 140 4659.

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