Energy retail

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The special administration of Bulb will be backed by a £1.7 billion government loan. Approving the unprecedented use of the special administration regime, a judge said state backing was of "existential importance" to continue supply to Bulb's 1.7 million customers.
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The government should consider picking up the tab for Last Resort Supply Payment claims to spread out the costs of the industry levy and protect consumers from a sharp increase in energy bills next year, Energy UK’s deputy chief has stated. Audrey Gallacher, who also serves as the trade body’s director of policy, made the suggestion after Bulb became the first supplier to enter the special administration regime earlier this week.
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Energy suppliers outside of the largest seven would be “mad” not to question their future in the domestic retail market after the recent turmoil, an industry expert has suggested. Ellen Fraser, energy retail partner at Baringa Partners, said they should ask whether they are "going to have to take so much of a loss that the payback period is not worth it."
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The government has made a “mess” of the energy retail market and must now “live with it” after Bulb become the first supplier to enter the special administration regime, an industry boss has stated. Ecotricity chief executive Dale Vince said it is a "very good thing" the government will be confronted with the reality of operating in the market it helped to create.
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Bulb has confirmed it will enter the special administration regime (SAR), becoming the first energy supplier to do so. The company, which serves 1.7 million customers, was revealed to have been in talks with an investment bank earlier this year. It will be the single biggest failure the market has seen, eclipsing that of even Avro Energy which failed earlier this year with 580,000 customers.
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British Gas has been appointed by Ofgem to take on the customers of failed suppliers Neon Reef and Social Energy Supply. The two companies, which leave behind a combined total of approximately 35,500 domestic customers, ceased trading last week and took the total number of exits via the supplier of last resort (SoLR) process so far this year to 24.
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Latest in Energy retail

Ofgem has confirmed plans to temporarily expedite Last Resort Supply Payment claims to relieve pressure on the finances of suppliers taking on the customers of failed rivals, whilst facing high wholesale energy prices. The regulator invited Suppliers of Last Resort appointed since 1 September to submit claims by 6 December to begin receiving payments from April.
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To mark Fuel Poverty Awareness Day, Energy UK’s Simon Markell writes for Utility Week about how energy retailers are seeking to mitigate the full impact of rising wholesale costs on customer bills. He implores the government and Ofgem to help the sector ensure costs to consumers are kept down and the scourge of fuel poverty is not exacerbated.
Opinion
Elexon has proposed to significantly raise the credit assessment price (CAP) in a move which will see it top £300/MWh for the first time ever. The Credit Committee said it is prepared to increase the CAP again at its next meeting in two weeks’ time as electricity prices going into January are currently forecast to be even higher.
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Zog Energy has ceased trading, claiming it was unable to secure the gas hedges it previously agreed with its gas shipper CNG. The Ipswich-based supplier, which served around 11,700 domestic gas customers, is the 27th energy retailer to exit via the Supplier of Last Resort process so far this year.
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Suppliers which have gone out of business as a result of the recent escalation in gas costs cannot blame the price cap because they should have been adequately hedged, the energy minister has argued. Appearing at the House of Lords Industry and Regulators Committee, Greg Hands said suppliers who were properly prepared have “clearly been in a much better position to ride out the big increases in global gas prices.”
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Scottish Power has been confirmed as the new supplier for the more than 70,000 customers of recently failed retailers Entice and Orbit Energy. Scottish Power's chief executive of UK retail Andrew Ward said the recent collapse of a number of companies shows the need for reform in the energy market to ensure those participating in the sector do so in a way which is "fair and transparent for customers".
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What can utilities learn from their experience of mobilising for rapid decarbonisation to drive greater pace and ambition in other areas of business transformation? A unique research report from Utility Week reveals the views of senior industry leaders on the potential for lessons to be leveraged and where.
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The UK’s net zero ambitions are at risk of being missed if the government does not cover the whole cost of home upgrades in grants to poor households, a report by two charities has warned. Speaking to Utility Week the NEA's head of policy and public affairs Matt Copeland used heat pumps as an example of an area where vulnerable households could benefit from more funding in addition to the £5,000 grants promised by the recently announced Boiler Upgrade Scheme.
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In our latest review of sector coverage in the national media, the BEIS committee chair promises “tense discussions” as he launches a review into the wave of energy supplier failures. Meanwhile, Centrica has axed its Evolve brand and disquiet is expressed at water companies reporting bumper profits despite pollution performance concerns.
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Northern Powergrid has revealed plans to harness smart meter data to optimise network voltage in Boston Spa and Wetherby in West Yorkshire. The distribution network operator said Boston Spa Energy Efficiency Trial is expected to lower annual energy bills for the 15,000 homes and businesses in the pilot area by an average of £20 and cut their yearly carbon footprint by 27 kilograms.
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Bulb’s demise had been falsely proclaimed many times before the supplier to 1.7 million customers eventually entered the special administration regime last week. Utility Week editor James Wallin discusses what the future might hold for the UK’s newly nationalised energy retailer.
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