UK renewable energy firm Bulb has paid energy regulator Ofgem for failing to correctly interpret or comply with Ofgem’s rules.
The utility has agreed to pay £1.76 million ($2.3 million) for failing to meet operational standards set by Ofgem around consumer switching, billing and the Priority Services Register.
The failure by the utility to meet the standards affected 61,000 customers between 2017 and 2020.
Around 3,800 consumers were blocked from switching to Bulb and missed out on savings. This is because these consumers were on Restricted Meter Infrastructure (RMI), where there is more than one meter at a property. Bulb did not submit the correct number of meters to the supplier that the consumers wanted to switch from, along with the switching request, which meant the switch could not go ahead.
Around 11,400 RMI customers were wrongly charged multiple standing charges, being overcharged by £699,000 ($919,000) in total.
Around 46,500 vulnerable Bulb customers were removed from their network operators’ Priority Service Register between March 2019 and January 2020, after Bulb’s systems mistakenly signalled to operators that they should remove them due to a data error.
This meant that some customers missed out on essential priority services, such as being given advance notice of a planned power outage.
Ofgem’s CEO, Jonathan Brearley said: “Bulb overcharged some customers, and risked leaving vulnerable customers without access to essential network services, when they failed to comply with Ofgem’s rules.
“Our rules are designed to protect consumers, and suppliers must make sure they have the processes in place to comply with them if they are going to give their customers good service.
“Bulb has since put things right with affected customers and put processes in place to make sure it can meet Ofgem’s rules.”
In a comment provided directly to Smart Energy International, the following was reiterated: “…the payment Bulb has made is not a fine. Fines are issued for enforcement action, whilst this was a compliance case, as stated in Ofgem’s press release. As this is a compliance case, the £1.76 million referred to is a package of redress fund, refund and goodwill payments for affected members. Bulb has since paid back affected customers and provided additional goodwill payments to customers who were overcharged, and also paid a further £157,000 into the voluntary redress fund to support customers in a vulnerable situation.
“Ofgem has recognised Bulb’s cooperation and the steps taken to fix the problems, and the case is now closed.”