Solarplicity becomes 13th energy supplier to collapse since 2018

Thousands of homes left without an energy provider after firm goes bust

Thousands of homes and hundreds of companies have been left without an energy provider after Solarplicity became the 13th firm to collapse out of the energy market since the start of last year.

It ceased trading two weeks after selling most of its customers to a rival amid a rising number of complaints and a deepening row with the energy regulator.

Solarplicity, which also installs home solar panels, was left with 7,500 home energy customers and 500 business customers after agreeing to hand over 43,000 of them to Toto Energy in July.

The company’s remaining customers will be moved to a new supplier through the regulator’s “safety net” process, which has been used seven times this year because of energy supplier collapses.

David Elbourne, the chief executive of Solarplicity, blamed its demise on the “overcrowded, highly regulated market” and the regulator’s “overly onerous interventions”.

Ofgem cracked down on the supplier this year because of customer complaints and unpaid bills for renewable energy subsidies, which Solarplicity collected from customers but failed to pass on to the regulator’s coffers.

The regulator also banned Solarplicity from taking on new customers because of poor customer service and problems with customer switching.

Matthew Vickers, the chief executive of Ombudsman Services, said it was no surprise the supplier had gone bust after rising customer complaints.

The ombudsman has received 3,324 complaints about Solarplicity this year, including 583 in July. It received about 1,000 complaints last year.

In addition to “high complaint volumes for a company of its size”, the ombudsman said Solarplicity had failed to take the required steps to put things right for the customer within the specified timeframe. “This includes failure to make the necessary goodwill gesture payments and refunds, which has been a concern of ours for some time,” Vickers added.

Elbourne said Solarplicity would continue to focus on the core strengths in its solar panel business.

Contributor

Jillian Ambrose Energy correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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