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British Gas takes on People’s Energy’s 350,000 customers

People's Energy customers have been automatically switched to British Gas's default tariff. Image: Centrica.

People's Energy customers have been automatically switched to British Gas's default tariff. Image: Centrica.

Ofgem has appointed Centrica’s British Gas as the Supplier of Last Resort for collapsed utility People’s Energy.

Approximately 350,000 domestic customers and around 1,000 non-domestic customers were switched to the Big Six provider on 19 September, following a competitive process run by the regulator.

Edinburgh-based People’s Energy was set up in 2017 with the goal of tackling fuel poverty, and grew quickly, expanding its operation in August 2020 with a new office in Selkirk. In the same year, it launched a new local supplier as well, dubbed East Lothian Energy, in partnership with East Lothian Council.

It announced that it was folding on 14 September 2021, the same day challenger supplier Utility Point also announced it was shuttering. EDF took on Utility Point’s 220,000 domestic customers.

The closure of both these suppliers came just a week after PfP Energy and MoneyPlus Energy collapsed. It has been a turbulent period for small suppliers in the energy market, with Hub Energy, Green Network Energy and Simplicity Energy all closing in 2021 and Yorkshire Energy, Tonik Energy, Effortless Energy and GnERGY doing so in 2020.

Recent wholesale energy prices have further pushed suppliers, with record highs recorded as a result of gas prices growing 250% since the beginning of the year, along with lower wind generation than expected and outages including the IFA interconnector, which suffered major fire earlier in September.

These conditions have meant that even larger suppliers are feeling the pinch, with Bulb – which commands 6% of the market share – beginning a search for additional funding to help see it through this tight period.

Recent research from Baringa has suggested that 39 more suppliers could fail in the next 12 months, which would leave just 10 in the market.

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