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25 Nov 2021

Bulb goes into special administration: what you need to know

If you're among Bulb's 1.6 million energy customers, your gas and electricity supplies won't be affected
Bulb Energy logo

Energy provider Bulb was put into special administration on 22 November. It's the biggest energy supplier to run into difficulty this autumn, so many customers will be affected. However, if you get your gas or electricity from Bulb you will will see no immediate changes and don't have to do anything right now.

Special administration is designed to protect the customers of a large company that has become insolvent. The administrator is required by the Government under the 2011 Energy Act to continue to supply energy to customers and protect credit balances.

Bulb said: 'We've made the difficult decision to support Bulb being placed into special administration. This process is designed to protect Bulb members, ensuring there's no change to your supply and your credit balance is protected.'

On 24 November, the government set aside £1.69bn to enable an administrator to run Bulb for the immediate future.

Previously Bulb has claimed to be the fastest-growing company in Europe, and that it was paving the way in helping people lower their energy bills and carbon emissions.

Keep reading for what Bulb customers need to know now.

You may also be interested in: our ranking of the best and worst energy companies according to their customers

Bulb customers: what happens next

Woman sitting at a table with her head in her hand
  • If you are a Bulb customer you don't need to do anything right now. Your gas and electricity supply will continue as usual. You won't lose any credit that you had built up with Bulb. Your tariff won't change either and prepayment meter top-ups will work as normal.
  • If you're switching to or from Bulb, this will continue as usual.
  • If you're expecting a Bulb smart meter installation or other meter appointments, these will also continue go ahead.

A special administrator has been appointed to run Bulb.

Teneo, a global advisory and public relations company, will run Bulb for the short term, until it is either:

  • rescued (eg through restructuring it)
  • sold
  • customers are transferred to other suppliers.

This is the first time the special administration process has been used in the energy market. Smaller failed firms' customers have previously been transferred to another energy company instead.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: 'we do not want this company to be in this temporary state longer than is absolutely necessary'.

Lisa Barber, Which? Home Products and Services Editor, said of the government support and the appointment of a special administrator: 'This move should provide reassurance to any of Bulb's 1.6 million customers who may have been concerned about the collapse of their provider.

'We recommend that Bulb customers do nothing and wait for more information about the special administration process. Its customers will continue to see their bills limited by the price cap, which is likely to be the best deal for them at the moment. If you have already arranged to switch to or from Bulb, this will continue as planned.

'There are few savings to be made by switching and some suppliers are not taking on new customers due to high wholesale gas prices. However, customers can research potential suppliers using sites like Which? Switch that show tariffs across the whole of the market, so they are prepared when competitive deals start to reappear.'

If you are a Bulb customer, you are free to switch to another energy supplier while the administrator is running Bulb if you wish.

Read more: 2021's failing energy companies

Will I have to pay more for energy with an administrator running Bulb?

No. Bulb has confirmed that customers' tariffs are not changing and the price cap still applies.

Bulb has one variable tariff so all its customers are on the same rates. Bulb said it offered a 'fair price...we think of it as great value for money'.

It raised prices in April, June and October 2021. Its prices are currently in line with the price cap.

The price cap changes every six months. Since wholesale prices are high, it's likely that the cap will increase in April.

Read more: Energy price rises and supplier failures: your questions answered

Why is Bulb Energy in difficulty?

There were rumours for several weeks that Bulb was looking for a rescue deal and reports that it was in discussions with other energy companies about a buyout.

Bulb said that lots of investors were initially interested in funding its business plans and future growth.

In a statement delivered with the announcement it said that: 'the rising energy crisis in the UK and around the world has concerned investors who can't go ahead while wholesale prices are so high and the price cap [...] currently means suppliers provide energy at a significant loss.'

As the seventh-largest UK energy supplier, the cost of rescuing Bulb is likely to be very high. With an estimated 1.6 million customers, It is more than double the size of the next-biggest energy firm to fail this year (Avro Energy).

Many of Bulb's customers will be keen to make sure they continue to use green energy. Find out how to use greener energy at home without switching supplier, or head to our newly ranked Eco Providers for energy.