What happens when an energy supplier closes its business?
Bright Energy has closed its business and is leaving the Irish energy supply market
From time to time, businesses may close for business for a number of reasons. This applies to electricity and gas suppliers as it does for any other industry.
If a supplier unexpectedly exits the market, the CRU has the power to take actions to ensure affected customers are guaranteed continuity of supply and their rights are fully protected.
This is done through what is called a Supplier of Last Resort (SoLR) process.
- How will I be affected if my supplier exits the market?
Customer’s electricity and/or gas supply will not be impacted in an SoLR event if your supplier exits the market unexpectedly.
The CRU has appointed SoLR suppliers, or short-term replacement supplier for electricity and gas.
- Electric Ireland is the SoLR supplier for electricity,
- Bord Gáis Energy is the SoLR supplier for gas.
Customers will remain with the SoLR supplier for a certain period of time that is set by the CRU.
Once this period of time is over, you can switch supplier.
The SoLR will write to you, clearly highlighting these options and providing information to help you shop around for the best deal.
Information on how to switch is available here (https://www.cru.ie/home/switching-supplier/)
- Do I need to do anything?
No. The SoLR will write to you, clearly highlighting what you have to do. They will provide useful information and contact details to help you during this process.
- Will this cost me money?
If you are transferred to the SoLR, they will charge you their standard rate.
Any credit or debit that was built up between you and your supplier will not be passed on to the SoLR as unfortunately, the SoLR does not have access to your old supplier’s billing system and is therefore unable to quantify this.
These debits or credits will be a matter between you and the exiting supplier and the exiting supplier may provide a refund.
You should continue to pay your bills as normal.
- How long will I be with this new supplier?
This will be set by the CRU and is determined by a number of factors, including the number of customers with the exiting supplier and the ability to switch you to your new supplier. Your new supplier will indicate how long this period will be.
During this time, customers of the exiting supplier will be automatically switched to the SoLR and will remain their customer until the event is over. This is necessary to ensure all customers continue to be supplied with energy.
Customers who were in the process of switching from their old supplier may need to check with their new supplier that this switch has been completed correctly. This is because when the customers are being moved from the exiting supplier, any switches currently in process may be cancelled as part of the technical transfer to the SoLR
- I have electricity and gas from different suppliers, how will I be affected?
Your supply for both electricity and gas will continue as normal. If your electricity supplier exits the market unexpectedly, only your electricity account will be impacted. This will automatically transfer to the electricity SoLR, Electric Ireland.
If your gas supplier exits the market unexpectedly, only your gas account will be impacted. This will automatically transfer to the gas SoLR, Bord Gáis Energy.
If you have both electricity and gas from the supplier that is closing, you will have two separate suppliers for electricity (Electric Ireland) and gas (Bord Gáis Energy) for the duration of the SoLR transfer period as set by the CRU.
- I have electricity/gas on a PAYG meter, how will I be affected?
If you are a prepayment customer, you will continue to have energy supply until any credit on your meter runs out. The next time you top up, you will be purchasing credit from the SoLR.
- Why did my supplier unexpectedly exit the market?
In a competitive market, company failure is a possibility that can never be ruled out. Suppliers are required to demonstrate they have the financial and technical capability to operate in the market before obtaining a supply licence from the CRU.
However, from time to time, like any other market, a supplier may decide to close its business. When this occurs unexpectedly, the CRU has these powers to intervene and, as in this case, call on the Supplier of Last Resort to step in.
All customers are provided with this same level of protection, regardless of who their supplier is.
- Why is there a restriction on switching?
To ensure continuity of supply, the SoLR must be able to act quickly. This ensures that the customer is not left without a supplier.
Once with the SoLR, the customer must stay with them for a period determined by CRU. This period is considered necessary to allow the SoLR to effectively manage the supply of potentially large numbers of new customers and to facilitate the issuing of bills to them.
- What rights will the customer have under SoLR?
Customers’ rights will not be affected by an SOLR event. The CRU mandated lock-in period is a necessary compromise to ensure a smooth movement of customers from supplier X to Electric Ireland/BGE while ensuring customers continue to be supplied with energy.
Once the lock-in period is completed, you can then change supplier as normal.
- How does this impact Priority and Vulnerable Customers?
The SoLR suppliers are required to provide the same level of service and protection to all customers including those who are registered as Priority or Vulnerable. The network operator will have a register of these customers so the SoLR will know their details.
If you are concerned that you may not be on the vulnerable customer register when you should, you should contact the SoLR to inform them of your status.
- How will affected customers be notified of the applicable Codes of Practice and Terms and Conditions of the SoLR?
The SoLR will write to all impacted customers. The SoLR will inform those customers of the arrangements for supply including codes of practice and terms and conditions.
- Contact details for customers who have additional questions in relation to SoLR?
This would be Electric Ireland/BGE
Their standard details are Electric Ireland: 1800 372 372 or 01 852 9534
Bord Gais Energy: 01 611 01 01 or 01 611 01 51 (Domestic)
Or 01 611 01 33 (Business)
- If my supplier is exiting the market does this mean I don’t have to pay for electricity anymore?
You should continue to pay your bills as normal. Your supply has been switched to the SoLR with immediate effect. Any credit or debit that was built up between you and your suppliers will not be passed on to the SoLR.
These debits or credits will be a matter between you and the exiting supplier.
Bills from your old supplier run to the date of the SOLR event, at which point the SOLR becomes your new energy provider. You should pay your bills for both for the period you were with that supplier
- I have an existing complaint with my current supplier, what happens now?
The outcome of the complaint, including in relation to money owed will be dependent upon the form which the insolvency of the supplier takes.
It may not be possible to resolve certain complaints if the firm is bankrupt.
- What happens with my customer data?
All customer data will be transferred to the SoLR suppliers and will be protected as per the terms and conditions of the EU data protection law.
- What is a Supplier of Last Resort?
Suppliers of Last Resort are intended to provide protection and security to consumers and will ensure the continuity of service for customers whose chosen supplier ceases to trade to supply a customer with energy.
The responsibilities of the Supplier of Last Resort are to ensure continuity of supply for customers of the failed supplier, provide these customers with the option of choosing a new supplier or to remain with the designated SoLR.
Under EU Legislation, the Commission for Regulation of Utilities has the power to appoint a Supplier of Last Resort to supply electricity or gas to customers in circumstance where their supplier has its supply licence revoked or is no longer able to supply them.
- Why has my Electricity supply transferred to Electric Ireland and/or Bord Gáis and not another supplier?
The CRU appointed Electric Ireland and Bord Gáis Energy as the SoLR supplier for electricity and gas respectively following industry consultation.
These suppliers have the capability to meet the energy demand for a large number of new customers quickly to ensure continuity of supply for customers.
Electric Ireland will act as the SoLR for electricity customers, while Bord Gáis Energy will act as the SoLR for gas customers.
*The only exception to this is LDM and DM gas customers who can switch suppliers once they have alternative arrangements in place.