Energy firm ceases trading
Sheen and Holyrood backed Our Power goes bust
Michael Sheen visiting Our Power’s head office
Our Power, an Edinburgh-based household energy supplier backed by the Scottish Government and the social fairness activist and actor Michael Sheen, has ceased trading.
It was set up in 2016 and was owned by local authorities and social housing providers and had hoped to turn a profit by 2020, though its model was not to distribute profits.
Sheen visited the headquarters of Our Power in 2017 to learn more about its “innovative approach to supplying fairer and more affordable energy and to support the work of the social enterprise”.
The company raised £4.4m in bonds in late 2017 from around 300 investors, set to pay 6.5% per annum from this month. The offer document had forecast a £2.5m profit on turnover of £100m by 2021.
Ofgem said it would appoint a supplier of last resort to take on Our Power’s 38,000 customers. In the meantime, energy supply of Our Power’s customers will continue and pre payment meters can be topped up as normal. The outstanding credit balances of domestic customers will be protected.
Our Power is the latest in a line of smaller independent firms to cease trading as rising wholesale prices have made risk, pricing and cost management even more important. Some suppliers have also failed to put aside the money they are supposed to pay into renewables levy schemes, with several going bust owing millions.
It adds further doubt to the Scottish government’s plans to launch its own energy supplier, as pledged at the SNP conference in 2017.
Ofgem’s advice to Our Power’s customers is not to switch to another energy supplier and take a meter reading ready for when the new supplier makes contact.
This will make the process of transferring customers over to the chosen supplier, and paying back their outstanding credit balances, as smooth as possible.
Philippa Pickford, Ofgem’s director for future retail markets, said: “Our message to energy customers with Our Power is there is no need to worry, as under our safety net we will make sure your energy supplies are secure and your credit balance is protected.
“Ofgem will now choose a new supplier for you, ensuring you get the best deal possible. Whilst we’re doing this our advice is to ‘sit tight’ and don’t switch. You can rely on your energy supply as normal. We will update you when we have chosen a new supplier, who will then get in touch about your new tariff.”
“We have seen a number of supplier failures over the last year and our safety net procedures are working as they should to protect customers.”
Our Power’s customers should take meter readings today and wait until their new supplier contacts them. Once they’ve been contacted, customers can ask to be put on their new supplier’s cheapest deal or shop around for a better deal from another supplier. They won’t be charged exit fees for switching away from their new supplier.
Customers with prepayment meters will be able to continue to top up as normal. Our Power or the new supplier will contact customers to ensure they are informed of any changes to arrangements for pre payment customers.