New laws fast tracked to protect gas customers from disconnection

New laws to stop gas customers being cut off have been fast tracked through the Manx parliament. The Gas Regulation (Amendment) Bill 2023 was passed in both the House of Keys and the Legislative Council.# Cabinet Office Minister Kate Lord-Brennan said it provided “safeguards around gas disconnections in winter”.

It comes after concerns were raised by politicians over a recent spate of termination notices by the monopoly gas provider Isle of Man Energy. Last week, the Office of Fair Trading confirmed the gas provider would continue a pause on disconnections until mid-January.

Moving the bill in the House of Keys, Ms Lord-Brennan said there had been growing reports in recent weeks of customers being disconnected, which in some cases had “caused great distress”.The law changes mirror UK protections for groups deemed more vulnerable or at risk. It means that gas suppliers will have to produce documentation and information to the island’s utilities regulator.

Ms Lord-Brennan said it also gave the Council of Ministers the power to “make orders to specify circumstances where gas customers may not be disconnected for non-payment”. She said: “We are not seeking to construct an entire regulatory regime for utilities, rather to attend to a particular issue of valid concern, and that’s why we’ve moved quickly.”

While some MHKs, including Jason Moorhouse and Michelle Haywood, expressed concern the new laws were being rushed, the majority of members supported the pace for the bill’s progress.

Chief Minister Alfred Cannan said: “We are acting against a monopoly provider to ensure the weakest in our society are protected.” In the final sittings of the year, the bill completed all of its stages in the same day in both branches. Ms Lord-Brennan said bill was expected to receive Royal Assent early in the new year.

Source: BBC

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