Energy retail

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After a bruising week for the energy retail market, in which wholesale power prices hit dramatic new heights, more than 500,000 customers saw their supplier exit the market and a major price comparison website was forced to suspend its energy services, the real fear is that we have yet to see the worst. Adam John looks at where the energy retail sector goes from here.
Analysis
Ecotricity has reiterated its ambitions to take over green rival Good Energy, making a new £53 million offer for the shares it does not already own in the company. The board of the latter has described Ecotricity as an "unfit" owner.
News
Average power prices over the past two weeks have been eight times higher than the average in 2019, according to data from EnAppSys. Phil Hewitt, director of the energy market analyst, told Utility Week further supplier failures were inevitable and that retailers should be lobbying Ofgem to give them some relief from the price cap. He said many suppliers had been far too relaxed about actively trading in the intraday and advanced markets.
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Featured

Business energy supplier Haven Power is to be rebranded as Drax as the group looks to more closely align its supply business with its generation arm.  Haven was acquired by Drax Group in 2009 and supplies more than 20,000 large industrial and commercial customers with more than 12TWh of renewable electricity annually – the equivalent yearly power use of more than 3 million homes.
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Elexon has said it is consulting on raising the Credit Assessment Price (CAP) to a new record high of £137/MWh following continued increases in wholesale electricity prices. The current price of £113/MWh is already the highest to date and only came into effect on Wednesday (8 September) after being confirmed by the administrator of the Balancing and Settlement Code (BSC) in August. It had previously been set at £96/MW
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Latest in Energy retail

The government has said it is ready to implement a “special administrator” in the event of a large energy supplier exiting the market. The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy issued a statement last night following talks with senior energy executives over the impact of soaring wholesale power prices. Secretary of state, Kwasi Kwarteng, is to meet Ofgem this morning “to discuss the issues raised by the industry in more detail” before convening a roundtable “to plan a way forward”.
News
One of the major price comparison services has halted energy comparisons after soaring wholesale costs resulted in suppliers restricted the number of tariffs available. Elsewhere other comparison services are offering a severely limited number of deals, with only a handful of suppliers listed on their sites.
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Kaluza and Flexitricity have teamed up to offer a new combined grid flexibility service in the Balancing Mechanism. The Ovo-owned energy platform and the aggregator will offer demand response by optimising electric vehicle (EV) and domestic battery storage, including vehicle-to-grid (V2G) for the first time.
News
A customer service expert has warned utilities they cannot get away with blaming poor performance on Covid or Brexit. Jo Causon, chief executive of the Institute of Customer Service, pointed to evidence that after an initial wave of high satisfaction across sectors, consumers were now becoming more demanding and less likely to be pacified when they encounter problems.
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A large fire at a National Grid interconnector in Kent is continuing to disrupt electricity supplies being imported from France. The interconnector, also known as Cross-Channel, is a 2GW high voltage direct current link between the UK and the continent. Data from National Grid shows power flows for the interconnector are currently at zero.
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Avro Energy has been ordered to immediately provide Ofgem with financial information or face enforcement action from the regulator. Ofgem said the supplier had failed to respond to two requests for information last month.
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Smart Metering Systems (SMS) has announced proposals to raise approximately £175 million through a new share placing to investors. The company said the fundraising, along with a combination of the group’s internally generated cash and recently increased £420 million debt facility, will help fundraise its pipeline.
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Ofgem has confirmed two more energy companies are to exit the market, leaving more than half a million customers for suppliers of last resort to pick up. People's Energy, a social enterprise formed in 2017, supplied 350,000 consumers, while Utility Point had 220,000 billpayers. An Ofgem executive told Utility Week the question of how to alleviate the intense pressures on the retail sector was now "a key point of discussion". 
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As wholesale power prices continue to soar to new record levels, one academic has predicted even large suppliers will be under extreme pressure. Average prices in the day-ahead market for Tuesday (14 September) hit £461/MWh on the EPEX market and £380/MWh on Nordpool. Jeff Hardy, a senior research fellow at Imperial College London, warned “if you haven’t got anything that de-risks your exposure to wholesale prices as a supplier, then I think you are going to be in deep trouble”.
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Centrica has announced plans to recruit an additional 2,500 apprentices, taking the total up to 3,500 over the next decade. The British Gas owner previously announced that it was aiming to hire 1,000 apprentices over the next two years after its chief executive admitted the company had “underrecruited” in recent years.
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