A couple of years ago, in Ofgem’s review of the home energy market, the regulator announced its intention to radically reduce the ability of ‘white label’ energy providers to offer electricity and gas tariffs to British households. Ebico’s EquiGas/EquiPower tariff is provided, through such a white label agreement, by our supply partner SSE, so this affected us very directly. The practical result of Ofgem’s proposals was that we would no longer have been able to offer our ‘fair-to-all’ tariff to either existing, or new, British customers. At the time, and with the help of our customers, we managed to convince Ofgem to give us a 12-month derogation (exemption) from this rule – an exemption which was later extended to two years. This meant that white label energy providers, and their supply partners, had two years to convince Ofgem that white label energy providers do bring value to the energy market.
We’re delighted to announce that Ofgem has now decided that we, and other white label energy providers, do, indeed, bring something valuable to the UK’s households. Ofgem has drafted a new set of rules, specifically for white label providers such as Ebico, which will permanently allow us to operate, whilst establishing a safeguards to ensure that we continue to add to competition in the home energy market. Ofgem’s final proposals include the following:
- White label energy providers will be entitled to promote themselves differently to their partner supplier. So, for instance, we’ll still be entitled to tell everyone that we are the fastest energy provider to answer customer calls, and one of the top-3 rated energy providers, in the Which? energy company survey.
- White label tariffs can be designed with a set of tariff features (mainly price, standing charge and discounts) which are not considered, by Ofgem, as being part of the supplier partner’s standard offerings. So, in our case, we will still be able to offer EquiGas and EquiPower with zero standing charge and the same price irrespective of payment method – including for pay as you go meter customers. EquiGas/EquiPower will continue to provide a fairer deal for low energy users and those on pre-payment meters.
- Those of a partner suppliers’ customers who would see their bills fall if they were to switch to the white label, will now have to be informed about this. Similarly, those supplied with a white label tariff will have to be informed if, for them, one of the partner supplier’s tariffs is cheaper.
The proposal is currently going through the final consultation until 20th March 2015. The final decision, which is unlikely to change from the current proposal, will then be implemented with a target date of July 2015.
At Ebico we welcome Ofgem’s decision as this ends the uncertainty about or EquiGas/EquiPower tariff which, for the past two years, has relied for its existence on a temporary exemption. We also believe that the new rules will offer, both increased choice, and greater transparency in the energy market.