Third sector-backed energy company folds

Michael-sheen

Actor-turned social justice campaigner Michael Sheen visited the company's Edinburgh office last year 

Some 70 employees are now facing the axe 

28th January 2019 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

Our Power, the housing association-backed energy provider which launched to huge fanfare in 2015, has folded.

Directors blamed the volatile energy market for the collapse while Ofgem, the industry regulator, assured the company’s 38,000 customers their supply won’t be affected.

Its 70 members of staff face losing their jobs with an administrator expected to be appointed on 31 January.

Our Power Community Benefit Society was founded in 2015 by 35 member organisations including some of Scotland’s largest housing associations and local authorities.

It pitched itself as an alternative to the big energy companies and said it would save its members up to 10% on their household utility bills compared to standard commercial tariffs.

Housing associations were especially keen to back the new company in a bid to end fuel poverty for their tenants.

A statement from directors said: “It is with heartfelt regret that Our Power board of directors has taken the decision to close by taking the company into administration.

“Directors had no choice but to reach this decision as the requirement to bring working capital into the business outpaced our ability to improve revenue collection and raise funds.

“The leadership team and directors have done their utmost to try to find a solution but have been unable to and reluctantly took the decision to close the business.”

In 2017 it launched a Social Purpose Bond to allow it to increase its market share and deliver its social impact.

It joins a number of energy companies that have gone bust recently.

Philippa Pickford, Ofgem’s director for future retail markets, said: “Our message to energy customers with Our Power 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.

“We have seen a number of supplier failures over the last year and our safety net procedures are working as they should to protect customers.”

By buying energy at wholesale rates for housing association tenants, it was expected to save them money and reduce fuel poverty.

The government agreed to three commercial rate loans, totalling £9.5 million, alongside social investors and after making checks into the business plans.