Spark Energy, the specialist supplier to tenants in the private rented sector, has gone bust.
There are an estimated 290,000 left without a gas or electricity supplier – although Ofgem will ensure that the tenants and others relying on Spark will continue to be supplied with power until a new provider is found.
Letting agents should be aware that advice is not to switch until a new provider is place. Once there is a new supplier, it will be possible to switch without a penalty. Users who are in debt to Spark will need to settle up with a new supplier, although this will depend on the deal agreed with Ofgem.
Tenants should be told to take meter readings now. They may need to be reassured that they will not be cut off. Those with a pre-payment meter should top up as normally. Those who pay after receiving monthly bills should continue to pay these.
Mary Starks, Ofgem’s executive director for consumers and markets, said: “Our message to energy customers with Spark is there is no need to worry, as under our safety net we will make sure your energy supplies are secure and your credit balance is protected.
“Ofgem will now choose a new supplier and ensure you get the best deal possible. While we’re doing this our advice is to ‘sit tight’ and don’t switch. You can rely on your energy supply as normal.
“We will update you when we have chosen a new supplier, who will then get in touch about your new tariff.
“Although we have seen a number of supplier failures this year, our safety net procedures are working as they should to protect customers.”
On its website, Spark blames “increasingly tough trading conditions” in the energy industry.
Spark missed a £14.4m renewable energy payment it should have made to Ofgem. It employs 400 people at its offices in the Scottish borders. It is the seventh small energy supplier to go bust this year. It is also the main sponsor of next week’s industry conference and awards bash, held by The Negotiator.