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Updated: 21 Oct 2021


SSE has long been one of the UK’s largest energy suppliers, as well as a renewable generator. But is it the right gas and electricity firm for you, especially now that customers are owned and supplied by Ovo?
Sarah Ingrams
Sse big six 480406

SSE is based in Scotland where it began in 1947 as the Southern Electricity Board before becoming known as Southern Electric.

It merged with Scottish Hydro 20 years ago and, since then, Swalec, Atlantic and Airtricity have all become part of SSE.

Now its customers have been bought by Ovo Energy. This means that around five million households are supplied by Ovo Energy, making it the second-biggest energy company after British Gas.

Ovo has the rights to use the SSE brand so, for the moment, the SSE brand and products still exist and customers won’t see any immediate changes.

SSE also sells home phone and broadband contracts, and boiler cover. SSE Reward gives customers access to offers and presale tickets at SSE venues. These still exist now Ovo has bought its customers.

Spark Energy, which was taken over by Ovo when the small supplier stopped trading in 2018, will soon be merging with SSE so its customers will become SSE customers.

Can you save money with SSE? See how its prices compare with your current deal – use Which? Switch to compare gas and electricity prices.

SSE customer score

SSE came joint 22nd out of 25 energy companies, rated by 7,460 members of the public, in the annual Which? customer survey. 

It has got worse as it has got bigger.

SSE customer

I think they mean well but efficiency could be improved as well as consistent answers to queries.

SSE customer

SSE score breakdown

The graphic below shows the breakdown of SSE’s score from our latest survey. Take a look at Ovo’s results to see what might be in store for SSE customers, now they’re part of Ovo.

Besides our customer satisfaction survey, we investigate how long it takes suppliers to pick up the phone in customer services and whether you can get a good energy deal. Scroll down to find out how SSE compares with its rivals.

Find out how SSE compares with other energy companies – see the full results of the best and worst energy companies.

Which? verdict on SSE

SSE can be found at the bottom of the heap along with the other traditional big companies. It shares its position with Eon. Only Scottish Power and Npower rank lower.

SSE has plenty of room for improvement compared with its parent company Ovo Energy, which ranks joint eighth this year.

SSE's customers gave it an average rating of three stars for its bill accuracy, bill clarity, customer service and how it deals with complaints. It was rated the same for customer service and complaints handling as rivals EDF Energy and Eon, although these companies scored higher for bill accuracy.

According to official complaints data, SSE received a higher-than-average number of complaints per 1,000 customers in the first half of 2020 when compared with other firms in our survey.

However, it managed to resolve 74% of them within two days – one of the best records of the suppliers we looked at.

Customers aren't enthusiastic about SSE's value for money, giving it a dismal one star for this. Npower and Scottish Power were the only other suppliers rated one star for this measure. Only one company – Outfox the Market – received the full five stars this year.

Although SSE performed badly in our survey, it scored well in our procedures assessment.

It offers a range of fixed-term tariffs, including one bundled with smart home products and another designed for electric vehicle drivers (giving you up to 8,000 miles of free electricity if you charge your car in off-peak hours).

Too expensive.

SSE customer

Their bills are OK but I think they could be a lot clearer.

SSE customer

In our 2020 snapshot investigation into energy companies' customer waiting times, SSE's pick-up time of 9 minutes 55 seconds was slower than the average of all the companies we called (5 minutes 57 seconds). That said, 12 firms of the 31 included took longer on average than SSE to answer the phone, including big-name rivals British Gas, Eon and Npower.

On live chat, SSE was the second slowest firm, taking 13 minutes 2 seconds to reply. The average wait time for the 18 companies we contacted in this way was just over 3 minutes.

Pros: Solves most complaints quickly

Cons: SSE was fairly slow to answer the phone to customers in our call-waiting investigation

Can you join SSE with a prepayment meter?

Yes, SSE has customers with both traditional and smart prepayment meters.

Smart prepayment customers can top-up their credit online anytime using SSE's online account or app. Plus you'll get 'friendly credit' if you run out overnight or at the weekend.

You can top-up traditional prepayment meters at PayPoints of Post Office branches. If you run out of credit unexpectedly, SSE will lend you some 'emergency credit' until you're next able to top up. You can access this via your meter and will need to pay it back next time you top-up.

Does SSE sell renewable energy?

Around half of the electricity SSE sells is matched with renewables. It doesn’t generate any itself or buy any directly from renewable generators.

Proportion of renewable electricity sold to domestic customers
Generates renewable electricity?
Buys renewable electricity directly from generators?
Proportion of customers’ renewable electricity matched by REGO certificates?
Generates or buys directly from fossil fuels?
Sells green gas?

Proportion of renewable electricity according to SSE’s 2019/2020 fuel mix. Other responses based on information provided by suppliers in August and September 2021.

SSE is part of Ovo Energy, which told us it has ‘chosen to invest in the smart grid because we believe that the renewable energy generation sector is well funded and growing fast’ and because ‘there is very little investment in the smart grid, which is urgently needed if we want to bring more intermittent renewable energy onto it’. Find out more about Ovo Energy.

Find out more about the differences between energy companies’ renewable electricity.

SSE in the news

SSE in 2021

March: SSE is paying 132,620 of its customers over £900,000 after overcharging them when they switched supplier or tariff between 2013 and 2020. It was one of 18 energy firms found by regulator Ofgem to have failed to uphold these rules. Over 1 million customers were affected.

SSE’s affected customers will receive £7.41 each, on average.

SSE in 2020

November: SSE announced plans to treble its renewable energy production by 2030. SSE owns a 40% stake in the Dogger Bank wind farm, which will be the world's largest offshore wind farm when completed in 2026. It said that just one rotation of a Dogger Bank turbine would generate enough electricity to power a UK household for two days.

September: Ogfem fined SSE £2.06 million for not fulfilling its obligation to publish inside information about its wholesale energy generation. This is believed to have had an impact on wholesale energy prices. 

August: SSE Energy Services failed to meet its smart meter installation target in 2019, energy regulator Ofgem revealed. 

The biggest energy suppliers, including SSE, set their own goals for how many smart meters they will install in homes and small businesses each year. Ofgem checks whether they achieve this. 

Ovo bought SSE Energy Services in early 2020, so it will pay £1.2m to compensate for SSE’s failure. 

January: Ovo announced that it had bought SSE’s customers, including for gas and electricity, broadband, home phone and boiler and heating cover. 

SSE in 2019

December: Ovo’s purchase of SSE’s energy and services business got the go-ahead from the Competition and Markets Authority and would take place in January 2020. 

September: SSE announced that it was selling its household energy and related services business to Ovo, including telecoms customers and other home services. This included customers of SSE’s brands including Atlantic, Scottish Hydro, Southern Electric and Swalec. 

April: SSE had to to pay £700,000 after missing its gas smart meter installation target for 2018. 

February: SSE paid out £705,000 after reporting its feed-in tariff payments incorrectly to energy regulator Ofgem. 

Don’t pay your energy firm more than you should. Use Which? Switch to find the cheapest gas and electricity.