Electricity firm goes into administration

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The Independent Online

Fluctuations in the energy market has forced Electricity 4 Business (E4B), which supplies power to 40,000 small and medium-sized enterprise across the UK, into administration.

By yesterday morning, administrators from the accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers had failed to find a buyer for the 140-strong, Milton Keynes-based company, forcing the company to close down. Some 100 staff have been made redundant, the rest will remain to handle the winding up of the business.

Companies receiving power from E4B will not lose their supply, but will be automatically transferred to an alternative provider, though a process run by the energy regulator, Ofgem, which is now under way.

Stuart Maddison, a partner at PwC, said: "The decision by the directors of E4B to place the company into administration comes as a result of volatility in the energy market. We will be working closely with Ofgem to ensure an orderly wind down of the company's activities and would like to reassure E4B's customers that the administration will not affect their supply of electricity."

Under the "supplier of last resort" process managed by Ofgem, the electricity industry is informed of the customers now available and invited to demonstrate their interest in taking them over. Ofgem said yesterday it was looking at offers but that it is too early in the process to give any clear figures. "We do expect the process to be completed in a couple of days," an Ofgem spokesman said.

Although tariffs may change, customers will be free to move onto a different supplier at any time.

E4B's business model was based on buying electricity at wholesale prices and selling on to companies spending less than £10,000 per year.