Energy retail

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A further three energy retailers have ceased trading, leaving another 233,000 customers for the supplier of last resort (SoLR) process. The failures of Igloo, Symbio and Enstroga Energy take the total number of market exits so far this year to 12, exceeding the previous record of nine set in 2019. Igloo's founders said the market had become unsustainable and accused Ofgem of ignoring calls to reform a price cap methodology which "is designed to favour the largest suppliers".
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There are reports this morning of a major policy pivot by the government, which is said to be about to announce that green levies will be moved from electricity to gas bills.
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Matt Cole, former head of policy and customer vulnerability at Npower, who now heads the Fuel Bank Foundation, believes there will likely be pressure for an early adjustment to the cap this winter to reflect soaring wholesale costs. Cole told Utility Week that extra support must be available for vulnerable customers in the event of any adjustment. Elsewhere National Energy Action chief Adam Scorer said the latest rise could mean an additional half a million consumers will be at risk of fuel poverty, as well as an increase in preventable deaths.
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As part of Utility Week’s Energy Reset campaign, we talk to former Ofgem chief executive, Dermot Nolan, about what the current turmoil in the retail market means for the price cap, the Supplier of Last Resort process and whether now is the time to introduce prudential regulation into the sector.
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A total of 31 energy suppliers have exited the market via the supplier of last resort (SoLR) process since 2016, with more domestic customers facing SoLR so far in 2021 than the previous five years combined. Utility Week has compiled a list of all 31 failures since 2016, and the suppliers which became the SoLR.
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Electralink's latest figures show there was an almost 16 per cent decrease in the number of smart electricity meters installed in August compared to July, ending a five-month run of more than 200,000 installations per month. Elsewhere, the Data Communications Company (DCC) has confirmed that more than 15 million smart meters are now connected to its network.
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Latest in Energy retail

The MP who led the charge for the energy price cap has called for further reform of the mechanism to tackle the so-called loyalty penalty. John Penrose wants Ofgem to restructure the cap so that energy suppliers can’t charge existing customers more than new ones. He also suggested implementing an “emergency circuit-breaker”, allowing the regulator to intervene if prices suddenly rise or fall significantly.
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A lack of regulatory clarity over how consumers in debt are treated when their supplier fails could lead them to face “unintended risks”, a former Labour shadow chancellor has warned. Chris Leslie, who is current chief executive of the Credit Services Association trade body, has written to Ofgem boss Jonathan Brearley calling on the regulator to issue guidance on how the administrators of failed suppliers should deal with customers in debt.
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Shell Energy Retail has blamed unsustainable pricing by competitors, increased regulation and volatile wholesale costs for soaring losses during 2020. The supplier reported a more than three-fold increase is operating losses from £26.7 million in 2019 to £83.6 million over the 12 months to the end of December.
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Omni Energy has told its customers that without a significant change to the cost of wholesale energy or a government intervention, it is “highly likely to cease trading” before the end of November. The disruptor brand, which specialises in serving prepayment meter (PPM) customers, said in an email that it has lined up a “switching partner” that is ready to transfer them to another supplier.
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The government should give energy customers a “break” by taking levies off their bills for the winter, the co-author of the 2019 Conservatives’ election-winning manifesto has said. Rachel Woolf told a fringe event at the Tory conference in Manchester on Tuesday (5 October) that temporary relief from policy costs could help households struggling to cope with rising prices.
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Ofgem’s price cap on energy tariffs is on track to rise to £1,659 in April in next year due to continued increases in wholesale gas and electricity price, Cornwall Insight has predicted. This would represent an increase of £382 – or 35 per cent – on the current level of £1,227 which came into effect at the beginning of October.
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Continuing increases to wholesale costs mean suppliers have a greater responsibility to self-balance in the energy market, Elexon’s director of digital operations has said. Peter Stanley was speaking to Utility Week following an announcement by the Balancing and Settlement Code (BSC) administrator that the credit assessment price (CAP) is set to rise to a new record of £259/MWh.
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An Octopus Energy director has called for COP26 to pave the way for global energy markets to open up to investment as she revealed the company has ambitions to enter the Indian market. Speaking at a fringe event at the Conservative Party Conference earlier this week Clementine Cowton, the company’s director of external affairs, was among panellists who were asked what they thought success would look like at next month’s global climate summit.
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In our latest review of sector coverage in the national media, a major switching site has started advising energy customers to stay with their current supplier. Meanwhile, the future of nuclear is expected to dominate the Conservative party conference and new research shows 53 per cent of England’s rivers are in a poor state.
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Sustainability First director Sharon Darcy sets out why the current turbulence in the energy retail sector should be used as a catalyst to create a fundamentally different market and regulatory framework that can deliver a cleaner, greener, and fairer energy system.
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