SSE Airtricity donating £450,000 to charities over 'regulatory failings'
SSE Airtricity has agreed to pay £450,000 to charitable causes after a probe found "significant regulatory failures".
Separate investigations launched by the Utility Regulator concerned SSE Airtricity Energy Supply (NI) Ltd, the second largest electricity supplier in Northern Ireland, and SSE Airtricity Gas Supply (NI) Ltd, which is the biggest gas supplier in greater Belfast.
The probes found both firms had breached a series of regulatory requirements under the conditions of its licences to supply electricity and gas here.
As part of the resolution process, SSE Airtricity has offered to pay £75,000 to each of the following charities: Action for Children, Friends of the Cancer Centre, MS Society NI, Cancer Fund for Children, Age NI and fuel poverty charity, NEA Northern Ireland.
Both entities also agreed to carry out comprehensive and independent compliance audits and make significant changes to internal procedures.
Commenting on the outcome of the investigations yesterday, Utility Regulator chief executive Jenny Pyper, said: "Our job is to protect the interests of energy consumers and we expect regulated companies to be able to demonstrate compliance with their regulatory obligations.
"Our investigations involved evidence of significant regulatory failures. We were surprised and disappointed to see such a range of systemic compliance issues.
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"The investigations examined numerous licence obligations, such as the provision 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."
In a statement, SSE Airtricity said: "We are very disappointed to have fallen short on our regulatory requirements."
The company said it had made the £450,000 donations, changed its internal processes and agreed to future independent audits.
"The majority of issues included in the investigation were self-reported by SSE Airtricity and we have already contacted individual customers where necessary," it said.
"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 obligations."
Welcoming the moves taken by the energy firm, Ms Pyper said: "We acknowledge the full co-operation of both companies during the investigations. Steps taken by them, by way of redress to affected customers, self-reporting of the matters under investigation and improvements to internal processes, are welcome.
"While the investigations are now closed, we shall nevertheless continue to monitor the situation to ensure each company lives up to the commitments it has made."