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Water Act 2014

Section 31: Interim duty: water supply

156.This section replaces section 63AC with new sections 63AC to 63AF to introduce a new power for Ofwat to direct one or more water supply licensees to take on some or all of the customers of a licensee that exits the market. If Ofwat does not exercise this power, the customers would revert back to the local water undertaker.

157.Where a customer reverts back to an undertaker, the undertaker cannot terminate the supply for a period of three months or until the customer makes a more permanent arrangement with that undertaker, another undertaker or with a different licensee. An undertaker may refuse to make an interim supply should making that supply put at risk its ability to meet existing and future water supply obligations. The undertaker’s decision may be referred to Ofwat for a determination if the customer disagrees with that decision.

158.Where Ofwat orders a licensee to take on the supply, the supply is to be treated as having been supplied by the licensee since the other licensee exited the retail market so that there is minimum disruption to the customer and the undertaker must recoup its supply costs from the appointed licensee. There is an “opt out” for the licensee from a proposed direction in section 63AC(5)(b) which it may use if, for example, it does not have the capacity. All licensees that elect to participate in the interim water supply regime must make a scheme for determining the default terms and conditions that will apply to the interim supply. Ofwat may issue a direction about the default terms and conditions that must be included in the licensees’ schemes. These directions are enforceable under section 18 of the WIA. Licensees and customers may agree their own particular terms and conditions. The licensee can, through a code produced by Ofwat, be required to tell the customer about the default terms and conditions before the licensee and customer make an agreement.

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