Orbit and Entice become latest UK energy suppliers to go bust

By Jillian Ambrose Energy correspondent
A person operating a domestic boiler
The collapse of Orbit and Entice brings to 24 the number of energy suppliers that have failed in fewer than 12 weeks. Photograph: ronstik/Alamy

Another two UK energy suppliers have gone bust after the collapse of Bulb Energy earlier this week, bringing the number of households affected by a supplier failure since August closer to the 4m mark.

The energy regulator confirmed that Orbit Energy, which supplied 65,000 households, had shut down alongside Entice Energy, which had 5,400 customers.

That brings the total number of suppliers that have failed to 24 in fewer than 12 weeks, as record energy market prices have taken their toll amid a global gas supply crunch.

Orbit blamed its collapse on the government’s energy price cap, which was designed to protect about 15 million customers on standard variable tariffs from unfair energy bills.

In a statement on its website, Orbit said it was “a well-run energy supplier” that had “always taken a prudent approach” to buying energy from the wholesale energy markets, so it could offer the “best price possible”.

“Sadly, the UK government and our regulator Ofgem expect us to sell energy at a price far lower than the cost to buy – which makes operating unsustainable,” it said.

Ofgem will choose a new energy supplier to take on Orbit and Entice customers in the coming days. The energy regulator told customers that under its “safety net” procedure their energy supply would continue as normal and any account credit would be protected.

The latest collapses follow that of Bulb Energy, which on Monday became the largest UK energy supplier to go bust. On Thursday, Bulb was handed to a special administrator that will continue to supply its 1.7 million customers over the winter.

Ofgem can typically find a new company to take on the customers left behind within days. But the size of Bulb’s customer base means it is likely to face a complex and months-long process to determine the fate of its customers.

The Treasury has set aside up to £1.7bn to pay for Bulb’s costs until the special administration process comes to an end.

Orbit and Entice were warned by Ofgem earlier this month that they could lose their supplier licences if they failed to pay back the money collected from their customer energy bills, which was earmarked to support small-scale renewable energy schemes such as rooftop solar installations.

Orbit owed £451,296 taken from its customer energy bills to support the government’s feed-in tariff scheme, while Entice owed the regulator £28,353 to help support small-scale renewables.

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