Written by Victoria Arrington, edited by Mark Todd.
How Many Suppliers Have Gone Bust?
In both 2018 and 2019, nine energy suppliers went bust or exited the market. These are record numbers. Before 2018 an energy company going bust was very rare.
This accelerating trend has led Ofgem to take action, by tightening their standards for new suppliers, and setting up a mandatory supplier licencing scheme.
Thankfully, customers who are affected by a supplier collapses are protected by Ofgem’s safety net, which means that your supply will not be cut off, and you will not lose any money in credit.
Here is a full list of every supplier collapse:
|Supplier||Approx. Date of Collapse||Approx. Number of Customers at Time of Collapse||Supplier Who Took Over|
|Independent Energy||9th September 2000||242,000||Innogy|
|Atlantic||Approx. 2003- 2004 – please see: https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/ofgem-publications/37721/mergersandaquisitions-18pdf||330,000||SSE|
|GB Energy||27 November 2016||160,000||Co-Op Energy|
|Brighter World Energy||21 December 2017||Not disclosed. (Note: They said they chose to exit the market rather than being forced. Please see: http://watt-logic.com/2018/01/23/independent-suppliers/)||Robin Hood Energy (their partner company)|
|Future Energy||25 January 2018||10,000||Green Star Energy|
|National Gas & Power (B2B)||26 July 2018||80||Hudson Energy|
|Ephase Energy||26 July 2018||20||Not reported|
|Iresa Energy||27 July 2018||95,000||Octopus Energy|
|GEN4U||13 September 2018||500||Octopus Energy|
|Usio Energy||15 October 2018||7,000||First Utility|
|Extra Energy||21 November 2018||129,000 (108,000 Domestic)||Scottish Power|
|Spark Energy||23 November 2018||290,000||Ovo|
|OneSelect||10 December 2018||36,000||Together Energy|
|Economy Energy||8 January 2019||235,000||Ovo|
|Our Power||25th January 2019||31,000||Utilita|
|Brilliant Energy (inc. Northumbria)||10th March 2019||17,000||SSE|
|Cardiff Energy Supply||8th August 2019||800||SSE|
|Solarplicity||13th August 2019||7,500 Domestic, 500 Business||EDF|
|Eversmart Energy||6th September 2019||29,000 domestic customers||Utilita|
|Toto Energy||23rd October 2019||134,000||EDF|
|Breeze Energy||18th December 2019||18,000||British Gas|
Suppliers who merged or exited the market in other ways
|Supplier Name||Approx. Date of Market Exit||Approx. Number of Customers at Time of Exit||New Supplier||Reason Cited for Exit||Method of Exit|
|Flow Energy||10 April 2018||130,000||Co-op||“[The] price cap…significant number of new entrants… aggressive pricing….”||Sold off customers|
|Affect Energy||5 September 2018||22,000||Octopus Energy||Not disclosed||Business sold|
|Snowdrop Energy||22 October 2018||6000||Nabuh Energy||“Increased wholesale prices”||Sold off customers|
|Green Star Energy||Late 2019||200000 domestic, 2000 Business||Shell Energy||Not disclosed||Business sold|
|SSE Domestic||15 January 2020||3,500,000||Ovo||” Ultimately, at SSE our strategic focus is now on developing, building and maintaining low carbon assets and infrastructure and that’s why it’s made sense now for our domestic retail business in Britain to go from strength to strength in new hands, where the core focus is on retailing. ”||Sold|
|ENGIE||20 January 2020||70,000 (domestic only)||Octopus Energy||To focus on other areas.||Domestic Customers Sold|
Note: In August 2019, Co-op Energy entered into a partnership with Octopus Energy, who now runs all of their operations. However, the brand name “Co-op Energy” is still active, so it has not been included in this list as having exited the market.
Why are so many suppliers going bust in recent years?
Some of the most commonly cited reasons are:
- An overcrowded market – too many suppliers
- Rising wholesale energy prices during 2018 and the first half of 2019
- The Price Cap that came in on 1st Jan 2019 squeezing profits
- Insufficient demands on companies entering the market so many entered that were not robust with little chance of survival.
What are the signs that a supplier might be struggling?
With the sheer volume of recent collapses, there are certain patterns and “red flags” we have noticed tend to precede a collapse.
Supplier Red Flags
Potential red flags to look out for include…
- A drop in customer service availability or quality, or a rise in customer complaints
A rise in complaints can be the first sign that something is up. These can be seen in poor service ratings on the energyhelpline website (one or two stars out of five) or in the Citizens’ Advice energy customer service rankings.
As of 9 January 2020 the latest Customer Service rankings show Nabuh Energy in 40th position bottom of the 40 suppliers they list with the rest of the bottom five made up by Utilita (39th), Green Star Energy (38th), Outfox the Market (37th), and Ecotricity (36th).
If you have issues with your supplier, remember to take notes of who you spoke to and when, plus what they have promised you. This can give you the backup if your situation isn’t resolved. If they don’t fix matters, first complain. If the supplier still doesn’t fix your issues to your satisaction after you have complained, then go to the Ombudsman whose job is to ‘handle disputes between energy customers and suppliers.’
- Not returning money due to customers (credit balances etc.)
If your supplier is unreasonable holding on to your cash and refusing to reduce your credits with them this may be a sign that they are cash strapped.
It is also a sign they don’t really care about you as a customer and you may be best to leave them.
- Unpaid bills to OFGEM, the regulator
If a supplier has missed payments to OFGEM, they will be in financial trouble.
Ofgem publishes these suppliers – as of January 9th 2020 small supplier Gnergy has unpaid debts to the regulator.
- Warnings and/or disciplinary actions by Ofgem
If they are in trouble with Ofgem it may be that they don’t have enough mony to provide a proper, compliant service.
Ofgem’s news site is a good place to check to see if this is happening to any particular supplier.
What should I do if my supplier looks like they might be struggling?
If you’re worried about your energy supplier’s future, you may want to set up a Google Alert about them. If respected news sources start reporting that there may be issues with your supplier, it may be advisable to start thinking about switching away to supplier that suits you better.
Note: You may be able to avoid exit fees
Many people worry about having to pay exit fees if they leave their supplier early. But you can often get your new supplier to cover the cost for you. Some suppliers already doing this; others may give your new account credit which is equivalent to the typical exit fee. If you switch to a cheaper supplier, the money saved may quickly outweigh the exit fees – as the average energyhelpline customer saves £300 in a year.
It’s also worth knowing that everyone can switch up to 42 days before the tariff end date without incurring a cancellation or exit fee.
What should I do if my supplier goes out of business?
Be aware there is nothing to fear – except possibly higher bills. Though the safety net will protect your supply coming in, the cost of your energy is less certain, and could very well go up. Fortunately, it is free and easy to remedy this – all you have to do is select a new supplier that suits you – whether it’s a supply with a 5-star quality rating, a top bargain, or perhaps all of the above.