‘Challenger’ energy supplier Breeze Energy has recently ceased to trade, despite topping the Citizens’ Advice Bureau’s customer rankings in recent months. It is the ninth retailer to leave the market in 2019.
All customers of Breeze Energy are protected under energy regulator Ofgem’s safety net, which means all outstanding credit balances of its domestic customers are honoured.
Ofgem has assigned Big Six supplier British Gas to take on nearly 18,000 domestic customers of the now-defunct energy firm. The appointment followed a competitive process to determine which supplier could provide the best deals for Breeze Energy’s consumers.
Ofgem revealed in a statement that Breeze Energy filed for the process of Supplier of Last Resort (SoLR) last 18 December.
In November, Ofgem sanctioned Breeze Energy, ordering them to make payments on overdue Renewable Obligation taxes – plus interest, which amounted to over £486,200.
The regulator warned the supplier that it would revoke its licence over this issue, for being one of two providers that owed a considerable amount to the Renewables Obligation fund.
Breeze Energy was also found to owe more than £500,000 in Capacity Market payments. Unpaid charges of over £10.9 million across suppliers were to be recovered and redistributed to contract holders. It will be used to fulfill the mutualisation process that only recently recovered from a standstill.
It was revealed that Breeze had entered second-level credit default with code administrators Elexon last December and re-entered the first level after just two days.
Before the regulator chooses a new supplier, Ofgem has advised Breeze customers to avoid switching to another energy provider themselvs and to have a meter reading taken, for when the appointed supplier contacts them to take over the account.
The regulator encouraged consumers to sit tight until the new supplier is chosen in order to make the transition – including the process of paying back their outstanding credit balance – a smooth one.
Ofgem further assured Breeze customers that they would be protected by the regulator’s safety net, meaning that their energy supply will remain available throughout the transition process.
A few days after news of Breeze Energy’s fate was circulated, Ofgem announced that British Gas would take on their 18,000 domestic customers. The regulator stated that the new supplier’s most competitive tariff would be offered to the former Breeze clients.
Ofgem further indicated that British Gas would be absorbing a significant slice of the costs that Breeze Energy incurred, including the money owed to both former and existing customers. The new supplier has also guaranteed that the transition would not affect energy supply, which means that former Breeze customers can use energy as usual.
Customers will be contacted by British Gas to complete the transfer of the account and set them up with a new British Gas tariff accordingly. Customers who choose to switch suppliers are also free to do so without having to pay exit fees.
Ofgem Director for Future Retail Markets Philippa Pickford announced British Gas’s appointment as the new supplier of existing Breeze Energy customers. She addressed customers regarding shopping for a new supplier, stating that they can look for better deals as soon as the transfer of the account to British Gas will be completed – in order to ensure that credit balances are honoured. Breeze’s outstanding debts to customers will be paid through the new supplier.
British Gas is the most significant energy and home services supplier in the UK, and belongs to the group of energy firms known as ‘the Big Six’, which dominate the electricity and gas market in the country.
The energy supplier employs nearly 30,000 individuals and serves about twelve million households in the UK.
In August 2019, the energy firm lowered its standard variable tariff price down 6%, as an answer to Ofgem decreasing the price cap. British Gas customers who are on this variable tariff pay approximately £1,177/ year for their energy supply.