Coronavirus (COVID-19) Customer Update – 15th February 2021

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Customer Update

Published on 15 Feb 2021

Dear customers,

I’d like to share our latest update as we continue to support you through the ongoing challenges and impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The one remaining COVID-related UNC Modification (0730V - COVID-19 Capacity Retention Process) is now with Ofgem for the final decision on whether or not to implement, as it is not following the self-governance process.

As all the home nations remain under national coronavirus lockdown restrictions which mean that many commercial properties must remain closed, Xoserve is receiving an increasing number of enquiries about whether the gas industry operates a process equivalent to the ‘Long Term Vacant’ arrangements in the electricity industry.

The gas industry doesn’t have a concept of ‘vacant’ sites, so there is usually no way to flag sites that are temporarily not consuming gas. The rules around AQ Corrections mean that a Gas Shipper can only reduce the AQ of a site where there has been a physical change in plant and/or equipment at a site, e.g. where a business unit has been fully or partly emptied. (Reason Code 2 – Change in Plant or Equipment). It is not permitted where the same equipment is still there but there has been a temporary change in outputs/usage.

However, for sites which must stay closed due to COVID regulations, two of the Urgent Modifications approved by Ofgem last year are still available for the duration of the government restrictions.

Firstly, for sites which are not consuming gas (or are only assuming a small amount, less than 2.5% of their normal usage) the Shipper may set them temporarily to ‘Isolated’ status under the facility introduced by UNC Modification 0723, without doing any physical work to disable the supply. This removes the site from daily gas allocation. Xoserve won’t accept meter readings while the site is isolated, and the isolation must be reversed if the government restrictions are lifted for that business type, even if the site chooses to stay closed. 

As an alternative the Shipper can use the facility introduced by UNC Modification 0722, which leaves the site in daily allocation but allows the Shipper to send in estimated meter readings as actuals, for sites where there is no access due to COVID restrictions. That would trigger a regular meter point reconciliation which would refund any unused allocated energy. It would have the added benefit that if the site is using little or no energy, that the Rolling AQ would start to reduce in increments. That would result in reduced daily allocations. Even if the site is annually read, a meter reading will be accepted every 25 days. The Shipper would need to ensure that they submitted a proper ‘actual’ meter reading as soon as possible when restrictions are lifted.

We produced some training material on both of these options and you can access it here.

Our next update will be on Monday 1st March. If you have any queries in the meantime, about our continuity planning, please email Covid19Enquiries@xoserve.com. We’ll respond to every email we receive within 24 hours.

 

Kind regards,

Andrew Szabo | Chief Customer Officer