Energy Supply Probe

In 2008 we launched the Energy Supply Probe. This was an investigation into the electricity and gas supply markets for households and small businesses.

The Probe found that although the market was working well in important respects - there was no evidence of a cartel, and retail price rises could be justified by wholesale costs - there were a range of features in the market that weakened competition. The result was that the market was not working in the best interests of consumers.

These included structural features, reinforced by the behaviour of suppliers and the lack of engagement and poor decision making by consumers.
Following an extensive consultation process, we developed a package of measures to improve the functioning of the market.

The first part of this package addressed concerns over unjustified price differentials through two new licence conditions for domestic suppliers, which came into effect on 1 September, 2009. These conditions:

  • required any difference in the terms and conditions offered by suppliers in respect of different payment methods to be cost reflective
  • prohibited undue discrimination in any terms and conditions offered to consumers.

The second part of the package promoted competition and consumer engagement and included obligations on suppliers to:

  • improve the information they provide to customers on bills and in an annual statement
  • help vulnerable and indebted customers who are currently blocked from changing suppliers due to outstanding debts
  • improve the conduct of their sales and marketing activities
  • help small business customers by providing them with better information regarding the terms and conditions of their contracts
  • improve the transparency of their supply and generation activities.

These measures became part of suppliers’ licences in October 2009, and were implemented between October 2009 and July 2010.

Publications and updates

  • Published: 29th Sep 2010
  • Guidance
  • 1 Associated documents
Following its energy supply market probe, Ofgem introduced a licence condition requiring major energy suppliers to produce accounts segmenting their supply and generation activities 6 months after their financial year end. Please find links in document

  • Published: 19th Oct 2009
  • Reports and plans
  • 1 Associated documents
Last year Ofgem completed a major investigation into Britain’s retail energy market. Ofgem has now put in place a package of reforms which will make it easier for consumers to shop around, negotiate and choose the best energy deal.

  • Published: 19th Oct 2009
  • Decisions
  • 5 Associated documents
This letter explains the Authority's decision to amend the supply and generation licenses, following its statutory consultation on proposals developed during the Energy Supply Probe.

  • Published: 22nd Jun 2009
  • Closed: 3rd Jul 2009
  • Consultations and responses
  • 1 Associated documents
This open letter outlines amendments to the original proposals set out in the ‘Energy Supply Probe – proposed retail market remedies’ related to automatic contract rollovers for micro business consumers.

  • Published: 15th Apr 2009
  • Closed: 29th May 2009
  • Consultations and responses
  • 1 Associated documents
This document outlines the remedies that we have developed to address the flaws in the retail energy market. They complement our separate proposals to outlaw unfair price discrimination.

  • Published: 6th Oct 2008
  • Closed: 1st Dec 2008
  • Consultations and responses
  • 44 Associated documents
This document contains the initial findings of the Energy Supply Probe.

  • Published: 6th Oct 2008
  • Guidance
  • 1 Associated documents
This document is a summary of the Energy Supply Probe - Initial Findings Report