Utility Week rounds up what we know about Green Star Energy.

Ofgem yesterday (30 January) revealed that Green Star Energy will act as supplier of last resort for the 10,000 customers of Future Energy, which collapsed last week citing trading difficulties.

The new supplier to Future Energy’s customers told Utility Week today it is “delighted” to be able to step into the breech.

Managing director Joanne Thornton promised all efforts will be made to ensure the transfer process for Future Energy’s customers is “seamless”, and that Green Star will continue to serve them at the same prices they signed up to with their now defunct supplier.

Green Star has even signed up to honour the credit owed to customers who had already switched away from Future Energy but had not had their balances reconciled at the time the supplier went bust.

But who is this energy supplier that is so willing to act as knight in shining armour to 10,000 stranded customers?

Background

Green Star Energy launched in the UK in 2013. It is a subsidiary of Hudson Energy Supply UK, which serves commercial customers, and which is itself a part of Just Energy Group.

Just Energy is an international energy company which serves residential and commercial customers across North America and Germany, as well as the UK.

It is the third largest residential supplier for the North America region, which accounts for 92 per cent of its accounts. Just Energy’s 2017 annual report recorded a gross margin of $696 million (£491 million), a slight decline on 2016. UK revenues for 2017 amounted to $488 million (£345 million).

Green Star’s website claims Just Energy’s backing “provides our customers with the stability of dealing with a global operation” while also providing the customer experience associated with smaller independent players in the market.

Leadership

Green Star’s managing director Joanne Thornton is an old hand in the UK energy industry.

From 2006-2010, she worked at big six supplier Eon in a variety of roles mostly relating to billing and settlement.

In 2011, Thornton moved to fast growing challenger brand First Utility where she was head of billing integration.

She joined Hudson Energy in 2012 as operations director. A little over one year later she became president and managing director, with responsibility for Hudson Energy’s commercial supply business, as well as the Green Star residential business.

A former colleague told Utility Week Thornton is a “capable pair of hands” and will “know what she’s doing” by taking on Future Energy’s customers.

Customers

Prior to acquiring Future Energy’s 10,000 customers, Green Star supplied gas and electricity to around 300,000 households across the UK.

Currently there are very few smart metered customers included in this base, as Green Star has only recently started it rollout. It does include around 18,000 prepayment customers however.

At close of the fiscal year for 2017, Just Energy reported that Green Star had achieved 198 per cent compound annual growth over the last five years. It now accounts for 8 per cent of the group’s residential customer base.

Selling points

Green Star promotes itself as an ethical energy supplier, with strong offerings around renewable energy tariffs.

The supplier now claims to provide 100 per cent of its electricity from renewable generators, including half from hydroelectric plant and a large proportion for wind.

In relation to gas supply, Green Star is working on a proposition for domestic customers which will leverage the green credentials of Hudson Energy’s Green Gas product for commercial clients.

As well as having a green energy focus however, Green Star offers competitive tariff prices, in part enabled by a strategic supply deal with Shell, established in 2013.

On average, Green Star claims it can save customers £176 per year if they switch away from a member of the big six and onto one of its products.

Customer Satisfaction

Green Star has mid-level ranking in customer satisfaction league tables run by Which? and Citizens Advice.

In the former table, it ranks at joint seventeenth place, above Coop Energy and below Iresa Energy. It’s weakest performance area, according to Which?, is online customer service.

By Citizens Advice’s measures, Green Star is ranked joint thirteenth for customer satisfaction, alongside Utilita.

It’s weakest performance area is noted as complaints handling, where it scored just one out of five stars between July and September 2017. It scored five out of five however, on ease of switching and four out of five for both ease of contact and billing clarity.

On Trustpilot, the online review platform, Green Star currently has a 3-star rating out of a possible five with an almost equal split of customers rating its services as “excellent” (40 per cent) and “bad” (34 per cent).

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