Just over 1,000 homes in Northern Ireland which were supplied electricity by small provider Open Electric have been transferred to Power NI after the regulator revoked its licence. If you were an Open Electric customer, you won't lose your electricity supply, but it's still unclear if you'll get your money back if you were in credit.
Here are the need-to-knows:
- Your electricity supply will continue as normal.
- Energy firm Power NI has taken over as supplier of all Open Electric's customers – roughly 1,100 in total – as of Sunday 18 December.
- You'll be paying Power NI rates in future – it won't honour the rates you were paying with Open Electric.
- If you're on prepay, you'll keep any credit you have on your meter. However, if you're on a credit meter and have credit on your account or have paid a security deposit, it's currently not certain when – or even if – you'll get this back.
I'm an Open Electric customer – what should I do?
You may not need to do anything, as all Open Electric customers have been automatically moved across to Power NI and you'll have had a new account set up for you. A transfer pack will be sent to all former Open Electric customers with full details of the move.
If you pay by direct debit, you'll need to contact Power NI to set up payment, as bank details have not been transferred. More details of how to set up direct debit payments and Power NI's various discount schemes will be included in the transfer pack and you can also phone it on 0800 011 3435 or check its website.
If you're on prepayment, you'll need to get a new Power NI keypad number – your current Open Electric card and number won't work. Power NI has sent emails to those affected, but it you haven't received one you can enter your Open Electric keypad card number on Power NI's website and get a keypad number from it. You can also call Power NI on 0800 011 3435 – in due course you'll be sent a new card too.
You'll be moved to a different tariff – check if you can switch and save
You won't get to keep your Open Electric tariff once you've moved across – you'll be automatically shifted onto Power NI rates. If you're a direct debit customer, you'll be placed on Power NI's standard tariff until you apply for a discounted payment scheme.
Power NI prices are set by the Northern Ireland Authority for Utility Regulation, but that doesn't mean they're the cheapest, so make sure you compare prices and check you're on the best deal for you once you've moved across. You can do this using the Consumer Council's price comparison tool, though you'll need to wait 20 days for your switch to Power NI to complete first.
What happens if I've outstanding credit on my account?
If you use prepayment, you'll keep any credit you have on your meter. However if you're on a credit meter, the situation's less clear.
The utility regulator says it "will endeavour to ensure that security deposits and credit that customers had with Open Electric are returned to them, if logistically possible". It says it's "working through the logistics of this, which may take some time to arrange". We're asking it to give more detail on this and will update this story when we know more.
What happens if I was in debt to Open Electric?
The utility regulator says your debt won't be transferred across to Power NI "and is a matter for Open Electric's administrator".
What happened to Open Electric?
In a statement on its website, the firm confirmed it is "no longer trading". It said "swift and significant" increases in wholesale energy prices – what suppliers pay for gas and electricity – in recent months mean that "the business has become untenable".
The regulator, which says it has been monitoring market developments closely in recent weeks and speaking regularly to suppliers, revoked Open Electric's licence to supply on Sunday 18 December and started 'Supplier of Last Resort' arrangements, transferring all Open Electric customers to Power NI.