Homeowner disputes ‘terrifying’ £40,000 electricity estimate – and is told by supplier it should be £52,000

·2-min read

A couple was shocked when they received a statement from their electricity supplier, Ovo, projecting their annual bill to be £40,052 – more than 20 times the energy price cap.

They queried the estimate with Ovo and the supplier admitted it had made a mistake: the figure was supposed to be £52,235.

Energy bills may have risen by around half in recent months due to the huge hike in the price cap but few households in Britain should expect to be paying more than £2,000 a year.

The couple in question, from Nethy Bridge in the Cairngorms, said they expected their annual bill to be twice that as they use a lot of electricity to heat their home. In a letter to The Guardian, the pair said one of them is 82 years old with serious health problems.

At the rate cited in the estimate, the couple would be met with a daily electricity charge of £143 – enough for a meal for two at a Michelin star restaurant.

The annual total of £52,235 would mean the three-bedroom house in the highlands had a higher electric bill than the Blackpool Illuminations – a two month festival of lights which has a bill of approximately £50,000.

The couple said they had trouble explaining their situation to Ovo. The homeowner who wrote to The Guardian, said: I called to query [the bill] and spoke to a customer service agent who at first couldn’t see the problem, then worked out a sum that was more reasonable.

“A few days later, we were informed that the annual estimate was now £52,235.64.

“I called again and spoke to an agent who couldn’t understand my concern since it was an estimate, not a bill. I logged a complaint via the website and was asked to send a photo of the estimate. I then received a message telling me that no further action would be taken.”

The estimate was later found to be based on incorrect meter readings and was eventually revised down after the couple provided Ovo with more readings.

The UK’s energy price cap, the maximum amount a utility company can charge an average customer per year for the amount of electricity and gas they use, rose 54 per cent in April to £1,971.

Ofgem, the energy regulator, expects it will lift the price cap again in October to around £2,800.

The cap, first introduced in January 2019, only applies to customers who are on a standard variable tariff, typically a provider’s default and most expensive option – but households using more than the average can be charged more.

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