Fears bills for ‘people’s’ energy’ could soar
Struggling Town Hall supplier sold to one of ‘big six’
11 September, 2020 — By Sam Ferguson
Islington Council leader Richard Watts
AROUND 3,000 energy customers who were persuaded to switch to the council’s own energy supplier are now at risk of “sharp price hikes” after the sale of its parent company to British Gas.
Angelic Energy was launched by the Town Hall in 2017, becoming the capital’s first municipal energy provider in more than a century.
Council leader Richard Watts urged residents to switch, claiming they would stay out of the clutches of the larger suppliers, known as the “big six”. But Angelic supplier Robin Hood Energy, which is run by Nottingham Council, was sold last week to British Gas after its most recent accounts showed losses of more than £23million.
Angelic customers in Islington could now be transferred to the energy giant, with fears prices will go up after their contracts with the council come to an end.
“It raises questions about the competence of our council to run a white label energy supply business,” said Green councillor Caroline Russell.
“Why did the council continue to buy energy from Robin Hood despite massive red flags being raised at scrutiny like the regulator fines last autumn for failure to meet renewable energy obligations?”
Green councillor Caroline Russell
She added: “This was at a time that the Mayor of London was setting up London Energy, and switching Angelic Energy customers to the Mayor’s energy scheme should have been possible.”
The Town Hall insists Angelic is not a loss-making company, and says it has not lost money as a result of the sale.
It is understood that affected customers are being contacted by Robin Hood Energy, and will not face exit fees if they decide not to switch to British Gas.
Cllr Russell said: “People with good computer skills will switch to an alternative ethical supplier on a good tariff, but Islington’s many digitally excluded residents, who are Angelic customers, are now exposed to the risk of sharp price hikes when their existing contracts end.”
Lib Dem parliamentary spokeswoman Kate Pothalingham described the situation as “very strange”, adding: “When Angelic Energy was established, Richard Watts described it as a ‘people’s energy company’ which would stop people being ripped off by the big six.
“Now it seems that all the people the council encouraged to switch to Angelic will end up in the arms of the biggest of the big six.”
A spokesman for the council said: “We are absolutely committed to continuing to help our residents secure affordable and greener tariffs on the energy market, and remain focused on securing the best possible value for Angelic Energy’s customers. We are carefully reviewing our options and are in discussions with Nottingham City Council and Robin Hood Energy.”