Troubled energy company Solarplicity Supply Limited has finally gone out of business. Around 7,500 domestic customers and 500 business customers were still with the supplier when it went bust. The majority of its customers had already been switched to TOTO Energy in July. Energy regulator Ofgem has appointed EDF Energy to take over responsibility for supplying its remaining customers. The regulator had been pressuring Solarplicity to deliver an adequate service since last year without much success.
What Were The Problems?
Alarm bells started ringing in 2018 when 1,000 complaints against the firm prompted the Energy Ombudsman to begin an investigation.The Ombudsman then received 3,324 further complaints about Solarplicity between January and August this year. For all of 2018 the number of complaints had been 1,035, so customers’ opinions of the Hertfordshire-based outfit’s service definitely hadn’t been improving.
Issues with billing, customer service and problems switching services made up the bulk of the firm’s reported failures.It was then given a three-month ban on taking on new customers by Ofgem in February 2019.
This was lifted in May with Ofgem deciding the company was making progress in improving its services, a strange decision given the surge in complaints received by the Energy Ombudsman in the first half of 2019. Although the company was still restricted from enrolling new domestic customers in its main business until August.
In light of the continuing problems, Ofgem then switched the majority of Solarplicity’s customer accounts to TOTO Energy in July, with TOTO beginning to provide supply to approximately 43,000 of the company’s 60,000 customers in August.Another issue that attracted the regulator’s attention was the failure to keep up with payments to renewable energy providers, called feed-in-tariffs. This was despite the company itself receiving payments from customers to cover these costs.Ofgem then issued a second sanction against Solarplicity in early August.
Shortly after, the company announced it was closing down.
HM Revenue & Customs began winding-up actions against it and the final nail in the coffin came on August 21st when Ofgem revoked its license to supply energy.Matthew Vickers, Energy Ombudsman chief executive, said the collapse wasn’t a “a huge surprise”.
“From what we have seen in the complaints that we handle, Solarplicity failed to provide a good level of customer service,” he said.
“In addition to high complaint volumes for a company of its size, we have also seen a significant problem with remedy implementation, whereby Solarplicity fails to take the steps we require of it to put things right for the customer within the specified timeframe.”
He added that this included a failure to make the necessary goodwill gesture payments and refunds.More recently the Ombudsman had discovered that some customers, including those who had transferred to other suppliers, may have had unnecessary payments or double payments taken from their accounts by Solarplicity.
What Happens to Solarplicity Energy Customers now?
You will be automatically transferred to EDF Energy who should contact you shortly. Ofgem's safety net policy means you don’t have to worry about your supply being disrupted, although the full process of transferring accounts and details may take a few weeks. If you’re worried about your supply and want to get in touch with EDF then you can find their telephone number here.
Will My Prepay Key or Card Still Work?
You can continue using your existing prepay key or card as normal. However, your tariff will change and EDF have not yet confirmed the rates. This tariff can be changed, but EDF recommends waiting until the transfer process has been completed.
Will my smart meter still work?
Second-generation SMETS2 meters installed recently should work without requiring any changes. Older installs may default to non-smart mode, which just means that they will work as a traditional meter in credit mode. Either way your supply should not be affected. If you do have problems, EDF recommend calling them on 0333 200 5110.
What Happens to my Bills?
If you are a domestic customer, your credit balance should be safe under Supplier of Last Resort regulations. Non-domestic customers should contact the administrator for more information.
EDF Energy are in the process of transferring outstanding balances for domestic customers. They recommend sending them a current meter reading to ensure accurate billing.
If you had already left Solarplicity any money the company owes you should also be repaid. If you owe them money, the company administrators will contact you to discuss the debt repayment process.
What if I want to switch supplier?
There will be no exit fees on your new EDF Energy tariff. However, Ofgem’s advice is to wait for the switch to EDF Energy to be completed before changing to another supplier. Getting a third supplier involved in this situation at the moment could create a lot of further hassle.
However, once the process has been finalized we would recommend getting some advice from an energy expert on which suppliers have reputable customer service and low prices to make sure you are getting the best available deal.
Timeline of Solarplicity’s demise
|January to August 2019||3,324 complaints about Solarplicity made to Energy Ombudsman.|
|February 2019||Solarplicity banned by Ofgem for three months from taking on new customers.|
|May 2019||Ofgem decides not to renew the ban.|
|Late July / early August||Transfer of the majority of Solarplicity’s customers to TOTO Energy.|
|13 August 2019||Solarplicity Supply Limited ceases to trade.|
|16 August 2019||Ofgem announces that it has appointed EDF Energy as the Supplier of Last Resort.|
|21st August 2019||Ofgem revokes Solarplicity supply licence.|