Background on Solarplicity

Solarplicity website

This isn't the first time that Solarplicity has been mentioned in the news - in February, Ofgem banned the energy supplier from taking on new customers due to its poor switching process and customer service.

The energy regulator also banned the company from increasing vulnerable customers' direct debits, warning that the firm could see its licence revoked if it did not improve.

Ofgem said it had been seeking improvements to Solarplicity's customer service, "which has been poor for a number of months".

It said that between March 2018 and September 2018, "there was an unacceptably high proportion of calls abandoned and unacceptably long call waiting times".

"Whilst call handling has improved, Ofgem has not seen the required improvements elsewhere."

The regulator said that the ban would remain in place for three months unless it saw significant improvements in the company's customer service and switching process.

No blackout near-misses, claims National Grid

A shop in darkness at Clapham Junction station during the power cut
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A shop in darkness at Clapham Junction station in London during Friday's power cut

The government is currently investigating whether procedures followed by National Grid are fit for purpose following last week's huge power cuts across England and Wales.

The Guardian yesterday reported that National Grid had experienced three “near-misses” in as many months and was aware of the growing potential for blackouts.

But National Grid disagrees...

Contrary to media reports there have been no near misses nor early warning signs of incidents similar to last Friday’s power cuts. This was a highly unusual event, without precedent in the past 10 years. We work with Ofgem to set the agreed limits of frequency of electricity output to keep the whole system safe and the lights on. All the time until Friday’s events, the system has remained within safe limits. We are conducting a thorough internal investigation and will report our interim findings in detail to Ofgem by the end of this week. We can and must learn lessons from Friday’s events – however rare their occurrence – as National Grid and as an energy industry."

SpokesmanNational Grid

Energy watchdog calls for 'tough but fair' price controls

Electricity pylons
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Energy watchdog Ofgem has proposed a "tough but fair" approach to price controls on electricity networks.

The regulator has published an open letter seeking views in response to its plans to ensure electricity distribution networks reduce emissions in line with government guidelines, without passing extortionate costs onto customers.

"Ofgem will strike a tough, fair settlement with companies which enables them to go further in decarbonising the economy and ensures that costs are kept as low as possible for consumers paying for the required investment," said Jonathan Brearley, executive director for systems and networks at Ofgem.

The letter calls for contributions ahead of the next round of price controls for electricity distribution (RIIO-ED2), which are set to be introduced in 2023.

Ofgem warning to Solarplicity

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Earlier this year energy supplier Solarplicity was banned temporarily from taking on new customers due to its poor switching process and customer service.

At the time energy regulator Ofgem also banned the company from increasing vulnerable customers' direct debits.

Ofgem has issued another update on the company today about its payments of outstanding money owed to Feed-in Tariff (FIT) generators.

It also warns that it could start the process of revoking its licence to operate if the situation does not improve.

And it is also refers to its issues with customers. "Solarplicity will provide Ofgem with weekly reports on its commitments to improve its performance... and has also agreed to not to take on new customers until 5 August 2019," Ofgem said.

CMA to extend prepay price cap

calculator and bill
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The Competition and Markets Authority says it is planning to extend protection for 4 million prepayment customers beyond the end of 2020.

The prepayment price cap was initially expected to be in place until the end of 2020 by which time the CMA said it had expected the roll-out of smart meters to be "substantially completed".

"The completed roll-out of smart meters was intended to offer greater ease of switching for customers and to drive increased competition for and engagement by prepayment customers. We have provisionally found that the delay to the roll-out programme for smart meters is significant and represents a relevant change of circumstance," the CMA said.

Calculations to the way the cap is set will also be changed.