UK energy watchdog Ofgem has claimed a positive outcome for its recent campaign to improve conditions for metered customers, having received pledges from the three remaining major energy providers that had previously not given any ground on their billing policies.

The three energy suppliers, npower, ScottishPower and Powergen, have promised to do more to avoid plunging customers into debt, Ofgem said in a statement.

Ofgem has conducted a campaign to make conditions fairer for metered customers after it became clear that many were falling fowl of backdated price rises that were resulting from delays in recalibrating meters.

Currently, EDF Energy and Scottish and Southern Energy already have policies to not charge increased rates until the meter is recalibrated. Following Ofgem’s approach, British Gas announced that, from December 1, 2006, it will write off any debt built up through delayed recalibration.

While npower, ScottishPower and Powergen’s measures do not go as far, they have now made commitments to improve conditions, such as accelerating plans to replace token meters with ‘smarter’ pre-pay meters and writing off debts that build up in cases of hardship.

Ofgem CEO Alistair Buchanan said: It is patently unfair that token meter customers should fall into debt through no fault of their own. Ofgem has therefore demanded that npower, ScottishPower and Powergen follow the lead set by EDF, SSE and now British Gas to do more to prevent customers falling into arrears.

I welcome ScottishPower’s existing recalibration program and its commitment to do more to help customers and I am pleased that npower and Powergen are stepping up their efforts. We will watch developments closely, but customers themselves will be the ultimate judge of how well suppliers respond and should look to switch away if their supplier’s service doesn’t measure up.