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Monday, November 29, 2021

Taxpayers face £1.7bn bill to bail out collapsed energy supplier Bulb

But with wholesale gas still more expensive than what suppliers were allowed to charge, the firm carried on losing money hand over fist with no hope of reprieve unless energy prices fell again or the price cap was lowered in April.

Martin Young, an energy analyst at Investec, said the price cap was partly calculated on an assumption that suppliers would buy energy further in advance, with Bulb had been caught out by relying on riskier, shorter-term purchases.

He said: “The regulator sets the framework. If you choose not to follow it, then the risk is on you. If Bulb were only hedging three months in advance, they had not de-risked.

“If you buy Bulb now, you are effectively purchasing the risk of supplying its customers through the winter.

“With the huge liabilities it has, who is going to want to pay money for this company right now?”

Ofgem is considering changes to the price cap, including whether it could be altered more often than every six months in “exceptional circumstances”.

Mr Kwarteng told Parliament the special administration process was a “temporary arrangement”, adding: “It will keep bills at the lowest cost while ensuring market stability.

“We do not want the company in this temporary state longer for than is necessary.”

But Ed Miliband, Labour’s shadow business secretary, said Bulb’s collapse pointed to “a systemic failure of regulation”.

He said: “Firms took risky bets and were allowed to do so.”

Since the beginning of September, 22 energy suppliers have failed.

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