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London: Independent Energy faces billing snag

Source: The Daily Telegraph London Publication date: Feb 12, 2000

INDEPENDENT Energy, the electricity retailer, yesterday admitted that it had a "major problem" with its billing system, which has led to "a large proportion" of the company's invoices not being paid since June.

While Independent has been sending inaccurate invoices to more than half of its 250,000 business customers, the company's share price has rocketed fivefold to a record high of pounds 32.32 last month, before slipping below pounds 30.00 this week.

Chief executive John Sulley confirmed the company had "a major problem" which he attributed to regional electricity companies providing incorrect customer data. Independent produces only 5pc of the electricity it markets, making it heavily reliant on the regional companies' billing information.

Mr Sulley said Independent's computer system could not process information in the wrong order, aggravating the problem. The extent of the hole in cashflow would be given at the interim results next week.

"The regional electricity companies are not sending correct information to companies who pick up new customers. This is an industry-wide problem. The question is why this hasn't been sorted out, and one we've passed to the regulator," he said.

A spokesman for the electricity regulator confirmed it was in talks with the company: "Independent Energy is a new entrant on the market and I don't think the regional electricity companies are overhelpful." Independent Energy shares fell 80 to pounds 28.10 yesterday.

Publication date: Feb 12, 2000 ) 2000, NewsReal, Inc.


-- Carl Jenkins (, February 13, 2000

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