An energy supplier set up to help some of Scotland’s most disadvantaged households save on their household bills has gone bust.
Our Power is the latest small-scale supplier to go under, leaving thousands of its customers in limbo.
However, the energy regulator Ofgem has stressed that supplies to the firm’s estimated 38,000 electricity and gas customers will not be affected.
The Edinburgh-based firm was founded in the summer of 2015 by nearly three dozen organisations, including housing associations.
It received a repayable loan of £9.5m from the Scottish Government and another loan of £1m from Social Investment Scotland, a finance intermediary also based in the capital.
The government described it as “groundbreaking” company – the first in the UK to operate on a non-profit distributing basis – that would make a lasting difference to tens of thousands of low-income households suffering as a result of fuel poverty.
However, it has now joined a long list of small providers that have gone bust of late, including Economy Energy, Spark Energy and Extra Energy. The latest accounts for the firm show it had net liabilities of more than £8.5m, with nearly £15m owed to creditors.
In a statement on its website, Our Power said: “It is with great regret that Our Power Energy Supply Ltd has ceased to trade. Ofgem, the energy regulator, is appointing a new supplier for our customers.
“Customers should not worry, their supplies are secure and credit balances are protected through the transfer to a new supplier. Prepayment customers should continue to top up and payments will be allocated to their meters as usual.”
Alex Neill, managing director of home products and services at consumer group Which?, said: “This spate of energy firm collapses shows why it is vital for the regulator to press ahead with measures to ensure current and future suppliers are financially sustainable.”
Communities and local government secretary Aileen Campbell described the announcement as “hugely” disappointing.
She said: “The Scottish Government has supported Our Power in its aim of tackling fuel poverty since 2015.
“This will be a worrying time for all the employees and we have offered support for those affected through our Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE).”
Scottish Conservative energy spokesman Alexander Burnett MSP said:
“Tens of thousands of people across Scotland may understandably feel alarmed at today’s news.
“But their accounts and supply are protected by the regulator Ofgem.
“I would echo the advice given to customers, to take a meter reading and wait for information about a new supplier to come out.
“In the meantime, it looks like the Scottish taxpayer will be out of pocket if Our Power’s loans aren’t repaid.
“I will be asking the Scottish Government what measures it is taking to stop this from happening again.”