Bright Energy pulls out of Irish electricity market over surging wholesale prices

Remaining 1,500 customers moved to supplier of last resort Electric Ireland

Bright Energy is pulling out of the Irish electricity supply market, where it has 1,500 customers. Photograph: Science Photo Library

Bright Energy is pulling out of the Irish electricity supply market, where it has 1,500 customers. Photograph: Science Photo Library

 

Surging wholesale prices drove independent power supplier Bright Energy out of business, making it one of electricity inflation’s first casualties.

Bright told regulators on Wednesday that it will cease trading next month, automatically shifting 1,500 remaining electricity customers to ESB subsidiary Electric Ireland.

The Commission for the Regulation of Utilities (CRU) advised the company’s customers not to take any immediate action as their accounts transferred on January 26th, so their electricity supplies will be uninterrupted.

Bright blamed the “relentless rise in wholesale energy prices”, which it said were more than 200 per cent higher than when it launched in 2020.

Wholesale electricity prices – at which generators sell power to suppliers – rose as much as 260 per cent last year, according to the Central Statistics Office.

Soaring household electricity charges prompted the Government to offer customers €100 off their bills in March in a bid to quiet growing controversy over the problem.

Bright had about 3,000 customers, but half moved in recent weeks as the company told them of its decision to close.

The supplier did deals with Power NI in Northern Ireland and Energia in the Republic to transfer customers to those businesses. It also gave clients the choice of moving to other electricity companies.

Customers

As not all clients moved, the company told the CRU, Bright’s 1,500 remaining customers transferred automatically to Electric Ireland, the supplier of last resort, on Wednesday, for a minimum of 20 business days.

Following instructions from the regulator, Electric Ireland will contact all Bright Energy customers within five business days.

They can remain with the ESB subsidiary or opt for another supplier after a further 20 business days.

The regulator’s supplier of last resort safeguard is meant to ensure energy customers continue to have electricity when a company can no longer supply them or ceases to trade.

CRU commissioner Aoife MacEvilly described Bright’s decision as regrettable. “The supplier of last resort process ensures that this will not negatively impact customers,” she added.

Bright said that it began reviewing its business towards the end of 2021 following sustained wholesale price rises.

“While all options were explored, Bright regrets to announce that it will cease trading in February 2022,” said a statement.