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Energy companies fall in ethical ratings after multiple takeovers

There has been turmoil in the electricity and gas retail sector recently, and many small and even big companies have been hurrying for the door.

A number of Best Buy companies from our electricity and gas report have recently been taken over by less ethical companies.

Robin Hood Energy, Bristol Energy, and Ebico have all been caught up in big shake-up of the domestic energy market.

Recent changes in ownership include :

  • Robin Hood, previously a Best Buy company owned by Nottingham City Council, has just sold to British Gas (Centrica).      
  • Ebico previously sold Robin Hood’s energy under licence. All of its customers have also been moved to British Gas.   
  • Bristol Energy, another council-owned Best Buy company, has just sold its retail business to the Scottish company Together Energy.      
  • SSE has sold its retail business to Ovo.           
  • Npower has been sold in entirety to E.On, meaning that the big six are no more.        
  • Greenstar and its parent company Hudson Energy Supply has been bought out by Shell Energy.          
  • Co-op energy has sold its retail business to Octopus.       
  • Engie sold its domestic retail business to Octopus.          
  • Solarplicty went bust in August 2019, and its customers were transferred to EDF. 

Analysts agree that there are a confluence of factors behind so many electricity companies going bust. The government’s bill price cap is a major part of it, and natural gas prices shot up in 2018, although they have subsequently fallen again.

Some have also pointed to the fact that many companies have gone bust without paying their renewables subsidy bill to Ofgem, and when this happens, their bill is passed over to all other electricity companies. While the bill itself is not huge, if this happens repeatedly it starts piling up and adding to the pressure on other companies, leading to a domino effect as they each go down.

The impact on Best Buys

Although our two Best Buys for green tariffs – Ecotricity and Good Energy, are still standing, at the end of all this shake-up the market looks completely different from the last time we looked at electricity and gas suppliers.

How has this affected scores:

Robin Hood and Ebico previously both held scores of 13.5.

Robin Hood’s score is now 7.5.

Ebico, which had previously been parented 50/50 with Robin Hood, is now parented 50/50 with British gas. Its new score is 9.5.

Both lose marks due to this their new relationship with Centrica, which loses marks for the following:

  • Worst rating for likely use of tax avoidance strategies.
  • Paying it’s senior staff over £1 million.             
  • Owning fossil and nuclear plants, and at last rating, it owned two fracking companies.       
  • Operating in several countries we considered to be governed by oppressive regimes.            
  • Being a member of several groups we considered to be free trade lobbying groups.             
  • Involvement in Arctic drilling.     

Many of the other companies scores have also been affected by the ownership changes described above.