Bluegreen Energy, Zebra Power, Omni Energy, AMPower, and MA Energy have all ceased trading this week amid soaring gas prices, impacting around 30,000 customers.
Bluegreen Energy folded on Monday, saying the ongoing “energy crisis in the UK” had put it “in an unsustainable situation.” The firm was part of the US Bluegreen Energy Group, which expanded into Europe in 2019, following a 2016 launch in Japan.
Bluegreen supplied 5,900 British households and a handful of businesses with renewable (REGO-backed) electricity and carbon offset gas.
Its failure was followed on Tuesday, 2 November by the collapse of four more energy suppliers. The largest, Zebra Power, had 14,800 domestic customers.
Omni Energy, with around 6,000 domestic prepayment customers, had been warning of its impending collapse since last month, saying it would almost certainly fold “without significant change in the wholesale cost of energy or government intervention.” It had written to customers urging them to switch away.
Omni drew rebuke from Ofgem when it switched as many as 3,000 unprofitable customer accounts, representing some of their heaviest energy users, to rivals without consent, in violation of the regulator’s rules and GDPR data protection regulations. Omni later apologised, saying it was experiencing a “very difficult time.”
Last week the Leeds-based supplier was one of three energy companies that defaulted out of Elexon’s Balancing and Settlement Code (BCS), a sign of financial difficulty, and as a result, were blocked from signing up new customers.
AMPower, which supplied around 600 UK customers and 2,000 overseas households, was similarly kicked out of the BCS in September and prevented from taking on new customers. Ofgem has been consulting on issuing a final order to the small company over a £3.6 million outstanding debt to the Renewables Obligation (RO) fund.
MA Energy, with 300 overseas customers, displayed similar signs of financial difficulty. The 12-year old was last month the subject of a provisional order about a £942,000 debt to the RO fund and also booted out of the Balancing Settlement Code.
Ofgem’s safety net will guarantee supplies of electricity and gas continue uninterrupted for the impacted 30,000 customers and the credit balances of domestic customers are protected. Over the coming days, the regulator will appoint surviving suppliers to take over the accounts through the supplier of last resort (SOLR) mechanism, with domestic customers’ tariffs at their new suppliers limited by the price cap.
Customers of the failed suppliers are encouraged to take a meter reading and wait until their new supplier contacts them before attempting to switch away.
As of Tuesday, 19 energy suppliers have folded since August as a result of spiralling natural gas prices, placing unprecedented strain on the SOLR mechanism. A number of suppliers have suggested they’re unable to accept additional accounts and must focus on serving their own customers and the accounts they have already acquired during the crisis.
Bulb, with 1.7 million customers, is still rumoured to be on the verge of collapse this week, with bailouts by rivals seen as increasingly unlikely given the volatility in the wholesale market. Fearing the startup’s failure would overwhelm the SOLR mechanism, Ofgem has readied City firm Teneo to step in as special administrator to run the company.
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