UK green energy company Bulb has called in the administrators after running out of liquidity, and clients in France are being advised by authorities to start looking for new suppliers.
Bulb, which was based in Bishopsgate in east London, was one of the UK’s largest renewable energy suppliers, claiming to use only solar, wind and hydroelectricity to provide clients with energy.
The news that the company had called in “special administrators” to keep it running took the French regulator Médiateur national de l’énergie by surprise.
“We have not been able to get any information from them for French clients,” a Médiateur national spokesman told The Connexion.
“Our advice to clients at the moment is to sit tight but also to start preparing to change their supplier, which they can do through our site energie-info.fr, which will point them to the supplier best able to meet their needs.
“In France it is up to the energy suppliers to communicate with their clients and let them know what is going on. Obviously in this case Bulb has not been doing that,” he said.
Bulb launched in the UK in 2015, and set up a French subsidiary in 2019.
Details of its French client base are hard to come by. Bulb’s statement announcing it was going into administration said its businesses in France, Spain and Texas were “separate companies” and not “directly affected” by the failure of Bulb in the UK, without giving further information.
In the UK, Bulb Energy claims to have 1.7 million customers, but it is not known if this includes French clients or not.
A new decree published by the French government on November 3 removes the risk of electricity being cut to homes and businesses in the event of the supplier going out of business.
It makes provision for an emergency supplier – in this case state-owned electricity company EDF – to take over.
There have been some fears that clients will face more expensive bills when they swap suppliers because companies set up to compete against EDF are feeling the full force of the recent sharp rise in electricity and gas prices.
In the UK, the government initially said that it would not interfere if companies went bankrupt, but the regulator, Ofgem, then changed its mind.
A Special Administrative Regime was established, for when an energy company goes bust but is too big to have its customers transferred to another firm. It is the administrators from this regime that Bulb has called in.
The stated aim of the regulator is to ensure that financial failure does not spread throughout the industry.
So far, only one other French electricity supplier has gone bust due to the high energy prices this year.
Hydroption was a supplier of low-carbon energy whose clients were mainly French government institutions, including the army, but which also had 200 business clients.