HALF of energy suppliers “could go bust in the next few years” due to a crowded gas and electricity market – and it will push up prices for customers, an expert has warned.
Earlier this week, small energy firm Solarplicity went bust leaving 7,500 households in limbo as the regulator Ofgem scrambles around to find a new supplier for these customers.
Today Ofgem announced it has revoked the licence of URE Energy sparking fears it will soon stop trading.
Solarplicity was the 14th energy supplier to collapse since the beginning of last year and Mark Todd, co-founder of Energyhelpline, warns that at least another 15 will go out of business in the next few years.
He said: “With the energy price cap dropping, and even huge suppliers like npower, British Gas and SSE all in trouble, we are expecting a spate of suppliers to fold or exit the market over the next 6 months.
“We are expecting a dramatic change this autumn and could be something like a Game of Thrones showdown.
Full list of energy firms to go bust since 2016
- GB Energy – November 2016: 160,000 customers
- Future Energy – January 2018: 10,000 customers
- National Gas and Power – July 2018: 80 non-domestic customers
- Iresa – July 2018: 100,000 customers
- Gen4u – September 2018: 500 customers
- Usio Energy – October 2018: 7,000 customers
- Extra Energy – November 2018: 108,000 customers and 21,000 business customers
- Spark Energy Supply Limited – November 2018: 290,000 customers
- OneSelect – December 2018: 36,000 customers
- Economy Energy – January 2019: 235,000 customers
- Our Power 38,000 customers
- Brilliant Energy – March 2019: 17,000 customers
- Cardiff Energy Supply – August 2019: 800 customers
- Solarplicity – August 2019 : 7,500 customers, c. 400 non-domestic
“At 60 suppliers there are simply too many for the market to sustain.
“This is likely shake down to 30-45 over the next few years in a huge consolidation
“Prices are likely to rise with more bankruptcies as competition weakens.”
Lots of smaller energy firms are finding it hard to get new customers.
It means that they set their prices really low, often taking on customers at a loss.
After a while it means their businesses aren’t viable, they run out of money and then fold.
In April Ofgem announced new tougher tests for suppliers and it is currently consulting on what checks need to be done on current ones and what happens when a supplier exists.
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At present when an energy firm folds Ofgem takes charge and negotiates finding a new supplier for all its customers.
Mark Todd estimates that costs customers between £200 to £300, as they are moved to a more expensive tariff. Of course, they can shop around and find a new supplier if they want to find a cheaper tariff.
A spokesperson from Ofgem said: “As in any market, suppliers may, of course, fail.
“We have extremely robust procedures in place to make sure energy supplies are always secure and customers’ credit balances protected.”
A spokesperson from Energy UK, which represents UK energy firms, said: “The increase in competition and the number of suppliers in recent years have been great for customers in providing more choice and driving down prices.
“However it remains a challenging environment for suppliers of all sizes and we have seen a number of suppliers exit the market in recent years because of unsustainable business models and often poor performance with their customer service.”
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As more households switch to small and medium energy suppliers, we take a look at whether they’re safe to sign up to.
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