Energy supplier SSE Airtricity to pay £450k over compliance failures

The Utility Regulator found the company breached 26 licence conditions, which included handling customer complaints and bills

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SSE Airtricity has agreed to pay a total of £450,000 to local charities in Northern Ireland over a number of licence obligations failures.

It follows Utility Regulator’s investigations into SSE Airtricity Gas Supply and SSE Airtricity Energy Supply earlier this year, focusing on areas such as billing and complaints handling.

The regulator found the company breached 26 licence conditions, which included handling customer complaints and bills, standards of performance, reading, inspecting and testing meters as well as on the efficient use of electricity.

SSE is the second biggest supplier of electricity to homes in Northern Ireland the biggest gas supplier in greater Belfast.

It has agreed to pay the amount to local charities and will carry out “comprehensive and independent” compliance audits as well as make significant changes to internal procedures.

Jenny Pyper, Chief Executive of the Utility Regulator said: “Our investigations involved evidence of significant regulatory failures. We were surprised and disappointed to see such a range of systemic compliance issues. The investigations examined numerous licence obligations, such as the provisional of information to customers and compliance with industry codes of practice, including the marketing code of practice.

“We have now closed each investigation, however, in doing so, our clear view is that it is imperative that both companies learn lessons so that customers receive the service they are entitled to. I am pleased that the companies have agreed to make payments totalling £450,000 to local charities, in addition to agreed changes to their corporate processes, and undertaking a comprehensive programme of independent compliance audits conducted at their own expense.”

The regulator added SSE Airtricity gave its full co-operation during the investigation.

SSE Airtricity said it is “very disappointed” to have fallen short on its regulatory requirements.

A spokesperson added: “In consultation with the UR, we have made changes to our internal processes and have committed to carrying out comprehensive and independent audits to ensure future compliance. The majority of issues included in the investigation were self-reported by SSE Airtricity and we have already contacted individual customers where necessary.

“We will continue to review our internal processes to make sure we’re living up to our values and delivering the best possible service to our customers, in accordance with our regulatory and licence obligations.”

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