Paul Twamley, Hyder’s finance director, admitted to Accountancy Age it had been fined #7 per head of new gas customers by network operator Transco, after failing to provide meter readings. He said it affected about 10,000 customers out of four million, but that the financial damage did not ‘exceed six figures’.
He added that, in April, gas business regulators required meter readings of new customers within two days. ‘In some instances, we failed to do so,’ he admitted.
The figures have been rounded up into a #12m one-off cost for gas start-up in Hyder’s 1997 annual report.
The charge comes as a blow to the company, as it strives to become the first to marry three utility sector operations. The dash for gas was an attempt to break out of the impasse, which tight regulation and strong competition has forced on the electricity and water sectors, and which stalled Hyder’s 1997 pre-tax profits at #208.5m.
Kevin Simmons, a utilities partner at KPMG, said electricity and gas markets were set for even greater competition.
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