Collapsed energy supplier Our Power’s customer book is to be taken on by Utilita, following an Ofgem ruling.
Edinburgh-based Our Power was set up just four years ago and is the latest casualty in a turbulent twelve-month period for Britain’s small energy suppliers – taking the overall tally of failed firms to ten.
A total of £9.5 million worth of loans had been granted to the not-for-profit supplier by the Scottish Government as part of an initiative to combat fuel poverty.
The Scottish government is keen to learn from the failure as it has ambitions to develop its own publicly-owned energy supplier. Aileen Campbell, Communities and Local Government Secretary, said:
“We’ll give that commitment to take any learning that we can from the experience that we’ve gone through with Our Power. Of course, we continue to develop proposals that will deliver the ambition of a public energy company and we’re on track to deliver that ambition by the end of this Parliament”.
The energy regulator, Ofgem, has already gotten the ball rolling on a plan to curtail the collapse of smaller energy suppliers. New regulations will require new suppliers to verify their financial resources as well as to prove their ability to meet customer service expectations.
Ofgem appointed Utilita to take on all 31,000 of Our Power’s customers, who will join their existing customer base of 600,000. Utilita themselves came under fire from Ofgem last September as it was one of a handful of companies publicly shamed for incompetency when handling customer grievances.
However, Ofgem is satisfied with the new measures put in place by the supplier, and improvements to the complaints-handling process are predicted to be made by the end of March.
In a statement made on Tuesday, Philippa Pickford, Director of Future Retail Markets at Ofgem, reassured customers that Utilita would provide a competitive tariff whilst upholding expected customer service standards:
“I am pleased to announce we have appointed Utilita, which will offer Our Power’s customers a competitive tariff for their energy. We are pleased that Utilita has given firm commitments to delivering a positive customer experience. We expect them to continue building on this to ensure a good customer experience for all customers.”
Former Our Power customers have also been reassured that their outstanding credit balances will be honoured, and that customers who were already approved by Our Power to receive the Warm Home Discount will continue to do so.
Additionally, all debts and money owed to both current and former customers will be honoured too.
The energy supplies will switch to Utilita on the 31st of January, up until which the supply will continue as normal. Meters for prepayment customers can also be topped up as normal.
The switch will be automatic and requires no action on the part of Our Power customers, however after the switch has completed if you wish to change supplier you are free to do so without facing an exit fee.
Customers are also advised to take a meter reading to prevent any future billing disputes.
Once their switch has been confirmed by Utilita, we would advise customers to run a quick comparison and see if there are any better deals available.