Beam Energy customers could transfer to British Gas after sale of local authority energy firm

Council Leader Darren Rodwell officially launched Beam Energy at Eastbury Primary School in January

Council Leader Darren Rodwell officially launched Beam Energy at Eastbury Primary School in January 2019. Picture: Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

Beam Energy’s 600 customers look set to be switched to British Gas and are promised their tariffs will be matched like-for-like or bettered as part of the switch-over.

Barking and Dagenham Council set up Beam Energy in December 2018 with the aim of providing residents with cheaper and greener electricity to help combat fuel poverty.

It was the product of a partnership between the authority and Nottingham City Council’s not-for-profit company, Robin Hood Energy.

The council said at the time that Beam Energy would offer cheaper gas and electricity even if wholesale energy prices rose because it didn’t have to pay shareholders or bosses’ bonuses.

Power supplies, billing, metering, and customer relations were managed by Robin Hood Energy under the partnership.

The landscape of the energy market at that time, with no price caps in place, meant Beam Energy could offer more competitive rates with an emphasis on helping customers on expensive, pre-paid meters and variable tariffs.

But the government’s introduction of price caps has changed the market.

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Centrica – British Gas’s parent company – announced on Friday, September 4 that it has agreed to buy Robin Hood Energy’s customer base for an undisclosed sum.

It followed a report by auditors Grant Thornton which noted cumulative losses at Robin Hood Energy up to March 31, 2019 of £34.4million in spite of Nottingham’s efforts to prop it up with loans.

The report also described governance arrangements at Robin Hood Energy as not strong enough.

Robin Hood Energy has confirmed Beam Energy’s 600 customers would be automatically switched to the new supplier with their tariffs matched like-for-like or bettered.

There should also be no exit penalties for customers wanting to move to another provider.

Council leader Darren Rodwell said: “Beam Energy has done a good job of providing cheaper energy at a time when prices were being hiked and customers could do very little to stop it.”

He added that the introduction of price caps has given customers better rates and more protection from price hikes.

“This, and the news that Robin Hood Energy is being sold, means it’s time for a shift for Beam Energy,” he said.

The town hall says the decision has no financial impact on the council, but Beam Energy will no longer operate in its current form.

It will focus on ensuring homes have access to affordable renewable energy systems like solar panels.