AN energy supplier has been controversially transferring its customers to a rival firm as it cannot afford to provide their power.
Omni Energy, which specialises in supplying those people on pre-payment meters, is among the firms hit hard by soaring wholesale gas prices.
It is understood panicked bosses started offloading un-profitable households in a move an industry insider said was “utterly bizarre and against all rules”.
Shocked customers have been emailing Omni after getting emails from firms including Scottish Power and Bulb welcoming them as new customers.
Many on pre-payment meters had to take them after falling into debt, meaning they are often among the most hard-up customers.
Their new providers grew suspicious after seeing a spike in new pre-payment customers from Omni.
Regulator Ofgem is aware of what Omni is doing and is set to investigate. Omni has agreed to pause the practice.
If Omni goes bust — as it predicted in a message to its 10,000 customers — it would become the 12th supplier to go under in the past two months and the 13th this year.
Part of the message reads: “At the moment, with wholesale energy costs at record highs, the cost of purchasing the energy we supply to your home is simply more than we can charge you, which will quickly become unsustainable for our business.
“We know this is a worrying time for many people and the news of suppliers going out of business is unsettling.
“Therefore, we are telling you now (of) the likelihood of Omni Energy ceasing to trade, because we want you to be able to be in control of your energy supply.
"To support you and to make sure we minimise the impact to you, we recommend you switch to another supplier as soon as possible.
“To facilitate this, we have a switching partner that is going to switch your energy to another supplier that is at the price cap, like us.
“They will select an energy provider who is better placed to supply your energy.”
Shocked customers have been emailing Omni after getting emails from firms including Scottish Power and Bulb welcoming them as new customers
As wholesale gas prices have soared, energy firms have been unable to afford electricity, which is mostly generated by burning gas.
Bigger firms can buy it six months or a year in advance so have yet to run into difficulties.
Smaller providers that gambled on prices levelling out have now found themselves in trouble.
Around 3,000 Omni accounts had been moved since the end of September.
Omni did not respond to The Sun’s approach for comment.
One email to Omni by a customer who tried to switch in the wake of Omni’s warning said: “I’ve just tried to switch supplier via Quidco cashback, as they were offering £120 cashback for switching to Scottish Power.
Smaller providers that gambled on prices levelling out have now found themselves in trouble
“But when I tried, it says Scottish Power already supplies our energy. Can you please confirm you haven’t switched me?Otherwise I’ll have lost £120.”
It is understood Ofgem has spoken to Omni, which is now no longer moving customers on.
Scottish Power has been reversing the switches after learning they were carried out without the consent of Omni customers.
An Ofgem spokesperson said: “Suppliers generally cannot switch customers away without their consent, except where a supplier sells some or all of its customer book as part of a trade sale to another supplier.
“In the event any supplier fails, Ofgem has robust systems in place.
“Our safety net ensures customers’ electricity and gas supply continues and protects their credit balances.”
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