Ovo is an independent energy company based in Bristol. Since taking over SSE in January 2020, it is now the second-biggest energy firm after British Gas. It supplies five million customers across England, Scotland and Wales.
Ovo Energy split off its pay-as-you-go, or prepayment meter, business into a separate supplier called It also took on the customers of failed supplier Spark Energy in 2018, but maintained the separate brand. However, Spark will soon be merging with and its customers will be moved over.
Ovo is investing in smart technology and services, too, including making electric storage heaters smart, creating electric vehicle chargers that charge your car when electricity is cheaper or in less demand, and selling home energy storage devices.
Ovo offers four 'green' tariffs, all backed by 100% renewable electricity. Plus, you can choose to upgrade to Ovo Beyond to get 100% renewable energy including 100% carbon-neutral gas, which includes 15% 'green' gas, for £6 extra a month (scroll down to find out more about where Ovo sources its energy).
It also sells a tariff for electric vehicle owners with 100% renewable energy, which lets you access low-cost overnight charging and includes a free subscription to the electric vehicle charging network BP Pulse.
In January 2020, it agreed with energy regulator Ofgem to pay £8.9m to make up for communications and billing issues. It says it has now resolved these.
In August 2020 it also had to make a redress payment of £1.2m for SSE missing its smart meter targets in 2019.
Ovo Energy customer score
Ovo Energy came joint-eighth, along with Sainsbury's Energy, out of 25 energy companies rated by 7,460 members of the public in the annual Which? customer survey. A few years ago it was the top-scoring supplier.
Ovo Energy score breakdown
The graphic below shows the breakdown of its score from our latest survey.
Scroll down to read the full Which? verdict on Ovo Energy, plus how its prices compare with other energy suppliers.
Which? verdict on Ovo Energy
Customers are still enthusiastic about Ovo, but it’s no longer the top-rated supplier.
The accuracy and clarity of its bills, rated five and four stars respectively, are on a par with the top-scoring firms as is its customer service and complaints handling – it gets four stars for both. No companies scored the full five stars for these two measures.
As well as being rated well in our survey for dealing with complaints, Ovo has one of the best records for resolving complaints within eight weeks, according to data from the regulator Ofgem. It managed 98% for the first six months of 2020. The worst firms only managed to solve 58% in that time.
Customers switch to Ovo Energy primarily for lower prices, although it only received a middling three stars for value for money. However, 28% said they switched to it because of its good reputation – higher than the 17% average across suppliers.
Although Ovo’s tariffs are rarely the cheapest on the market, it pays customers between 3-5% interest on their credit balances (the rate depends on how long they have been a customer).
In our most recent energy call waiting investigation, in September and October 2020, Ovo Energy answered the phone in 6 minutes 55 seconds on average. This was just a little slower than the overall median average waiting time for all suppliers of 5 minutes 57 seconds.
For comparison, the four slowest firms of the 31 we contacted took more than 20 minutes.
Ovo was faster to answer using live chat (3 minutes 6 seconds); again, this is very similar to the average wait time for the other 18 firms we tried to contact using this method.
Pros: Pays interest on accounts which are in credit; solves almost all complaints within eight weeks
Cons: Value for money isn't rated as highly as for other suppliers
Ovo Energy electricity sources
Ovo Energy in the news
Ovo Energy in 2020
December: Ovo announced that it is trailing linking smart meters to Tado smart thermostats to provide customers with information through the Ovo app about how they can reduce their energy use and in turn their carbon footprint.
August: Ovo had to pay £1.2m for SSE Energy Services’ failure to meet its smart meter targets, energy regulator Ofgem revealed.
SSE didn’t install enough smart meters in its customers’ homes in 2019. But since Ovo bought the supplier earlier in 2020, it paid the sum instead.
Energy firms set their own annual smart meter targets and Ofgem monitors whether they meet them.
Ovo paid the £1.2m into Ofgem’s consumer redress fund, which helps customers in vulnerable situations and those affected by the failure.
Ovo said it had 'significantly improved' its smart meter rollout programme since it bought SSE Energy Services in January 2020.
April: Ovo had to pay a penalty of £8.9m for failing to comply with certain standards of conduct, not providing the required information to customers or giving them inaccurate information and charging more than the price cap.
January: Ovo agreed to pay £8.9m for communications and billing issues, energy regulator Ofgem announced.
Around half a million customers received inaccurate annual statements, and others didn’t get one at all, between July 2015 and February 2018.
Some were over or under-charged because Ovo underestimated consumption one winter.
Some 10,000 customers were not told about renewal when their tariff ended, nor moved to new tariffs.
Around 17,500 prepayment customers were charged the wrong amount according to the price cap. Another 8,000 paid too much because Ovo failed to move them onto a new tariff when theirs ended.
Ofgem said that Ovo did not report these problems to it and was slow to put things right.
But Ovo Energy has since corrected the problems, including refunding customers who were overcharged and writing off amounts owed by customers charged at the wrong rates.
Ovo said: ‘OVO Energy holds itself to high standards, but we have not always got it right. We accept Ofgem’s findings of issues regarding estimation processes, information formatting and pricing errors.’
It said it has a new technology platform, a bigger team and new systems and practices to make sure it meets all regulations in future.
Earlier in the month, Ovo bought SSE’s household energy and services business. It then started integrating the two firms.
Steven Fitzpatrick, CEO and founder of Ovo, said: ‘There is a lot of work to do to bring the two businesses together, but we have a really strong combination of great talent, technology and customer centricity that will enable us to succeed.’
Ovo Energy in 2019
December: Ovo got the go-ahead from the regulator (the Competition and Markets Authority) to buy SSE’s household energy and services business. This meant Ovo would supply around 3.5 million households.
It expected the purchase to be complete in January 2020. Until then, the two companies remained separate and customers didn't see any differences.
February: Ovo announced a 10% price rise for customers on its standard tariff, called Simpler Energy.
If you were one of the 160,000 customers affected, you would have paid an extra £112 per year from 1 April.