The energy cost / subsidy merry-go-round

I have a PPM and I have just received a SAM telling me I am going to receive a GER worth £12 PDQ.  Is this OK?

It sometimes seems that people use abbreviations or acronyms to create confusion. This is not a recent phenomenon.  In the early nineteenth century in the USA there was a fad for creating acronyms and what have been described as comical misspellings. It was at this time that OK  (the expression not the magazine) first appeared. According to some, the letters stand for Oll Korrect which was itself a misspelling of ‘all correct’ (although this version is disputed).

To get back to the £12 GER.  These letters stand for Government Electricity Rebate. The government has put in place a package of measures designed to reduce annual domestic energy bills by an average of £50 per household over the next two years.  The GER is a £12 contribution towards this and is meant to compensate us for part of the recent increases in our electricity bills resulting from the cost of promoting renewable energy sources.

While any initiative to help with the cost of fuel bills is to be welcomed, the way in which the money goes round in a circle is interesting.  The government introduces measures to encourage use of renewable energy sources, for example, subsidising people to install photovoltaic arrays on their roofs. (the wisdom of investing in a form of energy which relies on a source – the sun – which is least available when demand is greatest in a country as far north as we are is a whole other debate). The electricity companies pay the subsidies and pass the cost on to the consumer.  When the public complains about increases in fuel bills and the electricity companies say it’s because of the renewable subsidies, the government introduces the GER which is paid for by taxes, which come from….?  The consumer.

An annual reduction of £50 is not to be sneezed at, although it is worth putting into context.  In the year ending 31 March 2014 Citizens Advice Waverley provided detailed money advice to more than 350 people with significant debt issues.  These included 44 clients with an average electricity debt of just under £500 (the equivalent figures for gas are 35 clients and just over £550).  Fuel debt also mostly affects clients with the lowest income.

Setting aside the bigger picture the good thing is that you should receive £12 from whichever company was your electricity supplier  on 12 October 2014, in the next few weeks. (11 October 2015 for next year).  You should receive this year’s credit between 12 October and 22 November 2014.

If you have a prepayment meter (PPM) you will receive a £12 voucher or have a Special Action Message (SAM) sent to your payment card, key or token via the top-up point. Vouchers will need to be taken to a top-up outlet where they can be redeemed in the form of electricity credit.  If you have a Smart prepayment meter you will receive the rebate automatically.

If your meter cannot be accessed remotely, your supplier will provide you with a code that you will need to enter into your meter manually.  Suppliers who only have a small number of prepayment meter customers may issue a £12 cheque.  Suppliers have until 28 February 2015 to credit any outstanding customers.

If you don’t have a prepayment meter the repayment should be credited to your account.

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