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Independent Gas Transporters

Miles and miles of mains pipeline carries gas around the country from terminals or connection points linked to offshore power stations.

Most utility companies try to recoup the cost by charging an extra fee if you are with an IGT. Of the big six energy firms, npower and E.ON all levy annual charges if you are with an IGT.

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Customers can expect to pay between £40 and £70 depending on their usage. EDF Energy does not charge its dual fuel IGT customers, but gas-only customers have to pay a premium. SEE, Scottish Power and British Gas do not charge an annual fee to customers supplied by an IGT.

Am I served by an independent gas transporter?

If you live in an older property, the National Grid or one of the other big regional suppliers will almost certainly deliver your gas.

An IGT is more likely to operate the gas distribution system if you live in a newer home that was built after 1995 when the market was opened up to competition. For example, IGTs frequently supply gas to modern housing developments because they offer competitive rates to house builders and developers to install a gas connection.

About 870,000 customers are currently served by an IGT and the number is predicted to rise to one million over the next few years.

To make absolutely sure whether or not your gas is delivered by an IGT, you can look at the Meter Point Reference Number (MPRN) on your gas bill. If the MPRN is 10 digits long and begins with 74 or 75 then you are supplied by an Independent Gas Transporter. Or you can call the Meter Point Administration Service on 0870 608 1524.

Will my gas cost more?

There is nothing wrong with IGTs: to transport gas a firm must hold a licence and satisfy strict safety requirements. But they can work out more expensive for you the customer. Why? Because your utility firm must pay both the National Grid and the IGT for the gas supply.

Most utility companies try to recoup the cost by charging an extra fee if you are with an IGT. Of the big six energy firms, Scottish Power, npower and E.ON all levy annual charges if you are with an IGT.

Customers can expect to pay between £40 and £70 depending on their usage. EDF Energy does not charge its dual fuel IGT customers, but gas-only customers have to pay a premium. SEE and British Gas do not charge an annual fee to customers supplied by an IGT.

You should bear the charges in mind if you are comparing energy prices. Comparison websites cannot detect whether your address is served by an IGT, so the deals that come up on the screen will not include any extra costs. Some smaller energy companies also do not accept customers who are supplied by an IGT, so you might not be eligible for all the deals.

But it's still worth checking out the cheapest energy tariffs as you could save about £200 on your annual bill by switching to a better deal.

Remember that if you smell gas or are worried about gas safety, you should call 0800 111 999, regardless of your energy supplier.