Solarplicity was serving around 7,500 domestic and 500 business customers when it ceased trading last week. The renewable supplier had already sold the bulk of its retail customer base—43,000 customers—to competitor Toto Energy in July.
Solarplicity’s remaining customers will be transferred to EDF, following Ofgem’s Supplier of Last Resort process. Supply for these customers will continue as normal and credit balances for domestic customers will be protected. Customers are urged to await contact from EDF and not to attempt to switch supplier in the meantime.
A spokesperson from EDF Energy said: “We are pleased to be able to step in to support the customers of Solarplicity, who will have been concerned to hear that their existing has stopped trading. They should feel reassured that with EDF Energy, they will be moving to an experienced and reliable supplier, with a good track record for customer service.
“Customers are asked to take a meter reading and we will write to them in the coming weeks, providing them the details of their new accounts and any further actions they need to take.”
Solarplicity collapsed following investigations and provisional orders from Ofgem for poor customer service and failure to pay feed-in tariff customers.
In February, Ofgem banned the supplier from taking on new customers, citing concerns about the treatment of vulnerable customers and the handling of complaints. The ban was lifted in May buy chief executive David Elbourne said by then it had scuppered a potential refinancing plan.
Elbourne criticised Ofgem for “overly onerous interventions” and for “recent and unnecessary public statements,” which he said derailed a potential sale of the supply arm of the business.
The firm’s collapse showed there was “no viable future as a small-scale energy supplier in today’s overcrowded, highly regulated market,” Solarplicity said.
It is the 13th small supplier to go bust since January 2018.
However, the Energy Ombudsman said it was customers who have been paying the price for Solarplicity’s failures.
A spokesman for the Ombudsman said: “We have been aware for some time of the issue of Solarplicity failing to put things right for customers and former customers, including failing to make the necessary goodwill gesture payments and refunds.
“Solarplicity’s conduct in recent months, culminating in its collapse, has caused considerable financial pain for a significant number of consumers and ultimately for our organisation as well.”
Citizens Advice said that the supplier’s failure, and the £170 million in unpaid bills previous collapsed suppliers have left, demonstrate the need for greater consumer protections.
The consumer group has suggested that Ofgem tighten regulations for existing suppliers, to ensure customers aren’t being mistreated, and then left stranded, by unprepared and under-financed small suppliers.
Meanwhile, the reallocation of customers to new suppliers after small companies fail impacts consumers across the market. Solarplicity’s customers are reportedly owed £3.5 million in outstanding credit balances, according to Ofgem documents. These will be paid by other suppliers and ultimately recouped through increased energy bills for everyone.
Last week Ofgem moved to revoke the supply licence of another small supplier URE Energy, for failure to make renewable energy payments. URE Energy is widely expected to follow Solarplicity into administration.