British Gas has been slapped with a fine amount to a cool £11.1m for failing to adequately supply households with the energy efficient measures government required of it.
Along with the rest of the ëBig Sixí energy suppliers, British Gas was obligated to partake in the Community Energy Saving Programme (CESP), but only completed 62% of its allotted workload by the end of 2012, leaving thousands of households bereft of their free insulation and worse off financially due to having to pay extra money to stay warm.
In excess of 6,500 households were frozen out of the programme by the energy giant, with British Gasís somewhat ironic justification for their incompetence being the effect of bad weather on their distribution service.
British Gas fared better with its meeting of the Carbons Emissions Reduction target, and although it still failed in meeting the regulatorís targets for ridding households of carbon emissions, it completed 99% of its requirements.
However, the regulator deemed that consumers were still shorted out of their due energy efficiency levels, adversely affecting their bills. The fine for this flop was included in the £11.1m overarching penalty.
Ofgem’s Sarah Harrison, suggesting the fine draws a line under the incident, said: ‘British Gas’s failure to deliver two environmental obligations on time is unacceptable. Thousands of households had to wait for energy efficiency measures like insulation to be installed during the winter.
‘The payment reflects British Gas’s failure to meet its obligations on time but also recognises its commitment to put things right’.
British Gas proved that following its initial inept approach to the CESP, it exceeded the number of measures it was to deliver whilst directly bringing about over £100m in savings for over 20,000 households.
Claire Mills, managing director of British Gas New Energy, said: ‘We’re hugely committed to the success of our energy efficiency programmes and are sorry we missed the 2012 deadline.
‘However, we’re pleased that in the end we managed to help more vulnerable people under this scheme than was required. The donation we’re making will further help those struggling to keep their homes warm’.
ìWe take our responsibilities to our customers very seriously and do all we can to help them keep their bills as low as possible. Providing free insulation is a big part of that, as well as giving our customers ways to manage and understand their energy use through smart meters and other new technologies,î she added.
Despite this contrition, Ofgem remained steadfast in their demands, stating their expectation that British Gas and its rivals must improve their complaints process and their overall approach towards one of greater consumer-orientation.
The regulator deemed the fine an acceptable way of ensuring British Gas did not make profit for failing to comply with official requirements of it, whilst the energy secretary lauded the penalty as an example of the severity faced by companies who fail to comply with state demands.
ìItís right that Ofgem holds British Gas to account for not meeting its legal obligations,î said Which? executive director Richard Lloyd.
ìEnergy efficiency schemes are vital for helping consumers save money by saving energy. The fine should be used to assist the most vulnerable households struggling with their bills.î
The £11.1m penalty fee will be used to further enhance the provision of energy efficiency improvements, and appropriate modes of re-distributing money amongst households affected by British Gasí initial blunders are to be announced in the coming weeks.
Other companies are expected to feel the full force of the regulator soon, due to their inadequate CESP performance, and British Gas efforts following its initial failure can be applauded to some extent.
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