Who are the big energy suppliers Feature Image

Who are the big energy suppliers 2021

Energy needs like gas and electricity are the sole requirements for every small or large-sized house and business. These services are granted by the energy suppliers based on different charges and tariffs stated by the Government. 

The suppliers in the energy market work under three key elements. Energy generation, energy transportation, and selling the energy to customers. Every supplier imposes charges on their customers based on how they utilize their operation under critical elements.

Currently, there are more than 50 energy suppliers in the United Kingdom offering gas and electricity supply. However, a few years ago, the competition in the energy market was a bit different. The gas and energy markets were dominated by the Big Six.

Who are the big six energy providers?

The history of the Big Six goes back to the 1989 Electricity Act, under which the electricity supply in the United Kingdom was privatized. Due to the privatization of the energy sector, six major companies in the UK took up gas and electricity generation.

In general, Big Six is a term used for the largest energy suppliers in the United Kingdom. The names of these companies are:

  • British Gas
  • SSE
  • E.ON
  • EDF Energy
  • nPower
  • Scottish Power

These suppliers covered the domestic and home-based consumers all over the United Kingdom. The companies in the Big Six held their dominance, covering 70-80% of the energy market across the UK. 

However, these companies’ substandard services and billing charges led the customers to consider switching their energy suppliers. This step increased the opportunity for other competitors in the energy market to introduce themselves. Such initiative leads to the downfall of the Big Six.

1. British Gas:

British Gas was founded back in 1973 and is known as the most significant energy supplier. It is not just the oldest but also the cheapest energy supplier among the Big Six. British Gas is the subdivision of UK company Centrica PLC, leading the company to set its mark in the energy sector.

British Gas provides the broadest range of tariffs for home and business customers. The energy plans are variable and fixed based needs of the consumer with renewable contracts. Without a doubt, British Gas is the most well-known energy supplier in the UK.

Services:

  • Online Account:
    You can make your account on the British Gas website and get many benefits like customer rewards. The account contains your credentials which also helps to pay the bills quickly.
  • HomeCare Boiler & Heating:
    Get the heating services installed on your doorsteps by a British Gas engineer for a hassle-free installation.
  • Plumbing and drains:
    You can call a plumber to fix any leakage problem or drainage issues instantly. The plumber will cover any outbuilding repairs or services regarding water supply or drainage.
  • Home electric:
    Trusted and experienced electrical engineers would install or fix any electricity issues at your home. Repairing of electrical appliances or wiring installation would be covered under this service.
  • Boiler and Gas annual services:
    The heating and gas pipeline may require assistance annually to check for repairs or leaks. This service will include parts and labour with 12 months guarantee.
  • Customer Support:
    You can book an engineer for all your British Gas appliances and services you want to avail yourself at home.

Market Share: 13 million customers

ProsCons
Invest in carbon-free electricity generationSubstandard customer service
Eco-friendly electricity and gas tariffsNot the cheapest supplier
UK's biggest energy supplier
Offers reward scheme for customers

2. EDF Energy:

The EDF (Électricité de France) energy was formed in 2002 by SEEBOARD, London Electricity, and SWEB energy formation. The company is known to produce low-carbon emission electricity and stands among the reputed energy suppliers of Big Six.

EDF is also known to produce an immense amount of electricity in the UK, having several power stations, including eight nuclear-powered electricity stations. Besides generating their electricity, the company is also focused on providing gas services.

EDF is focused on delivering sustainable energy solutions, which also assists in the establishment of new startups.

Services:

  • EDGi portal:
    EDF offers 24/7 online customer support for any queries regarding energy services. The online customer portal can be used for posting suggestions and complaints as well.
  • Retail Energy and Supply:
    Focused on meeting the demands of enterprises regarding electrical power and gas. Under this service, the company also offers intelligent powering solutions with renewable products.
  • Energy Generation services:
    EDF provides the services for power generation machinery, including machinery and engineering expertise. The company tends to resolve the power and gas generation complexity by providing intelligent assistance.
  • Retail Aggregator:
    Providing clear terms and conditions for better rate management. This service is helpful for customers to choose a suitable package in terms of pricing.
  • Energy Marketing & Trading
    Company would provide flexible and responsive services in energy marketing by providing authentic global level information. The service covers monitoring all the energy markets to create additional value and reduce risks in terms of investments.

Market Share: 6 million customers

ProsCons
Professional in dealing with issuesMore expensive than competitors
Low-carbon electricityFocuses on big-time industries mostly
Low exit fees
Nuclear power generation infrastructure
Suitable for the establishment of successful business
Larger supply and volume of electricity

3. E. ON:

E. ON was the name introduced in the UK energy market back in 2002. Before, the company operated under the name Powergen which was established in the late 1980s. It’s a German Energy franchise that has set its mark in the United Kingdom, providing dual fuel energy solutions.

E.ON is specialized in providing energy solutions with their tailored pricing plans. The company has suitable packages and solutions for both home-based and business market customers. The flexibility in charges negates the one-for-all tariffs for firms based on their needs.

This initiative makes E.ON a suitable energy supplier for multiple categories, extending from local startups to well-known business establishments.

Services:

  • Gas and electricity plans:
    The service resolves the fixed billing issues and allows customers to create a suitable method. In this way, small businesses can benefit their startups by managing their budget according to their needs. 
  • Online Account:
    You can access the website by adding your credentials online. By accessing your account, the company will provide you with a suitable plan best for your business. The account can be used to post complaints and avail online customer support.
  • Renewable energy resources:
    E.ON provides renewable energy resources from solar power with combined energy generation through gas and heat. This service enables efficient use of energy through Solar panels, heat pumps and wind power.
  • Solutions for industry:
    Providing better energy solutions through products and services. This service allows customers to understand their needs better.
  • Storage Optimization:
    Providing tools and services that can allow customers to monitor their energy use. This service enables flexibility in terms of optimizing energy consumption and generates savings. Storage solutions also define the energy demand of your sector.

Market Share: 7 million customers

ProsCons
Focused on creating green energyInadequate customer response over the phone
Tailored plans for customers
Far behind in improving their services
Renewable resources backed electricity
Best prices via debit card payments
Best with dealing with complaints.

4. nPower:

nPower is one of the leading energy suppliers in the UK, previously known as National Power in 1990. nPower offers dual fuel supply and electricity generation across the United Kingdom with satisfactory customer response. nPower stood its mark in the Big Six, being one of Europe’s leading energy companies.

The company offers flexibility for business owners providing various long-term packages and variable plans. Such feasibility offers business owners to plan their annual expenses accordingly. nPower keeps its customers updated with the latest options by supplying intelligent meters to their business customers.

In addition, business consumers also get the advantage of the rewards scheme to avail special offers.

Services:

  • Suitable packages:
    nPower offers suitable packages for their customers. The company grants business customers to modify their packages based on their needs. The purchasing solutions also include variable tariffs for sophisticated billing methods.
  • Energy generation:
    If you want to avail of on-site energy generation sources or purchase energy, nPower has got you covered. The innovation energy contract will give a push start to your generation project with stable energy prices.
  • Reliable readings:
    nPower is committed to installing smart meters for all its customers across the country. Smart meter installation offers accurate meter reading, noting timely consumption of gas or electricity.
  • Complex energy dealings:
    Reliable customer support helps you to deal with complex problems. Compliance experts give you advice on understanding the billing system. This service will also help you to perform best practices to save more on your charges.

Market Share: 5 million customers

ProsCons
Satisfactory customer responseComplicated billing system
Free Smart meters for customersCharge more than they should
Pre-payment methods are accepted
Business Rewards Scheme
Offer energy supply connection within five days
Support lower carbon emissions

5. Scottish Power:

Scottish Power was a part of the South Scotland Electricity Board, a part of the Spanish Iberdrola Group. Even having its roots in Scotland, the company supplies energy resources to many sectors in the Northern United Kingdom. 

Scottish Power is focused on providing green energy solutions for a pollution-free future. The company has established green energy on a large scale, including wind power solutions. Scottish Power is known for supporting startups and businesses with their convenient deals. 

Services:

  • Boiler care:
    With the range of home services, Scottish Power offers repairing and cleaning services, including boiler care. You can avail of boiler maintenance or service all around the year for a fixed fee. For 3.5 pounds a month, you can benefit from insurance for your boiler in case of any breakdowns.
  • Kitchen appliances care:
    Kitchen appliances are used daily, and they tend to break down more often. Therefore, the company offers a complete package for your kitchen appliances’ repair and maintenance service.
  • Plumbing services:
    If there is any pipeline blockage or leakage, Scottish Power has covered you with their plumbing service for up to 5 call-outs per year.
  • Electricity repair service:
    Expert engineers will look after any electrical connectivity issues or repair electrical appliances. The company provides innovative products to make the electricity options safe and controllable in your home.

Market Share: 5 million customers

ProsCons
Fixed tariffs18% more expensive than other suppliers
Renewable energy resourcesBad at resolving customer issues
No Exit feesBad customer ratings on Trustpilot
Good reputation among SME's energy plans
Fast customer response
Prices can decrease timely

6. SSE:

Summary:

SSE stands to be the second-largest energy supplier in the United Kingdom with a broad history rooted in Scottish Hydropower 20 years ago. The multinational company is based in Scotland. Although it provides services in the United Kingdom, it is owned by a British company, OVO energy.

SSE contains many companies and includes several services, including gas exploring and storing as well. SSE provides professional advice for business owners to offer suitable packages for their startups. The company has built its size but lost its reputation over time.

Services:

  • Get rewards:
    SSE standard energy tariff customers can enjoy rewards with a credit back advantage for adding broadband service with their energy package.
  • Renew online:
    SSE customers have the advantage of quickly renewing their tariffs online via the web application. It’s a convenient process and only takes a few clicks by accessing your registered account on the SSE website.
  • Referral awards:
    If you refer a friend to avail the SSE service, you can get a credit reward on each sign-up.
  • Business energy solutions:
    SSE empowers numerous businesses with their fixed and variable energy plans. These energy plans include renewable electricity for all business consumers. 
  • Telecom Network:
    SSE also brings innovative solutions with their telecommunication technology. The broadband service resolves the connectivity issues and provides organizations with a one-stop solution for their communication and energy needs.

Market Share: 9 million customers

ProsCons
Hydropower combined companySlow customer response
Better issue resolving for customersComplications with expensive bills
Rewards with SSE AddOnsBad Trustpilot rating
Timely services
Dual gas energy suppliers
Focuses on providing better business energy plans

Market Share of Top 6 energy suppliers:

Name

Customers

Market Share

British Gas

13 million

24%

EDF Energy

6 million

9%

E.ON

7 million

10%

nPower

5 million

6%

Scottish Power

5 million

6%

SSE

9 million

14%

A number of Customers and Market Share under Ofgem 2019 4th Quarter Statistics.

Why do people avoid switching energy providers? Is it worth it?

Most of the customers think the switching is a lengthy process and takes a while. Customers tend to stay loyal to their supplier for a time and feel that they might get a discount for being long-term customers. However, that’s not the case. 

You might get a discounted package if they avail a long-term contract from their supplier. But affordable long-term packages are primarily offered to commercial users only. You should only switch if you think your energy supplier is charging you more on tariffs. In this case, you can compare tariffs online and find the cheapest energy supplier.

Should you switch to a small energy supplier?

Small suppliers have their benefits for being new in the market. Thus, they tend to grab customers from the big energy suppliers. The benefits are stated below:

  • Better prices:
    Small-time energy suppliers are new in the market. Therefore, they tend to charge less on tariffs and services to grab customers with cheap services. These suppliers focus on the competitor’s service and offer the same benefits but cheaper.
  • Designated market:
    new energy suppliers are focused on small-time businesses and exclusive needs. They bring solutions that are suitable for niche-based markets.
  • Better customer service:
    smaller companies focus on providing better customer services. Since their cover a smaller number of customers compared to larger companies, their responsiveness is much better. 
  • Creative energy:
    small energy suppliers focus on offering renewable energy options such as solar panels. These companies are focused on bringing intelligent solutions which negate the polluted ways of generating energy.

Conclusion:

The pioneers in the sector tend to have a better reputation because of their duration in the industry. The same is the criteria when it comes to the energy market. People hesitate to try new options and follow the same opportunities others have been availing for a while. 

However, this trend changes as more people switch to other available options in the market offering better prices. The availability of newer opportunities in the energy market increases competition among the suppliers. Thus, every company focuses on improving their services which are ultimately better for consumers.