Come the 1st of June, First Utility customers on the iSave v12 plan will be moved to a more expensive tariff, the iSave Everyday. The difference between the two plans is a hefty £196 a year, or more than 18%.
The First Utility price increase was announced last month, and is now just days away. Affected customers, who are currently paying £1,054 a year on average, will find their bills now clock in at £1,250 — pulling them off a ‘best buy’ energy plan and putting them into an energy spend similar to that of the standard plans available from the big six.
The ‘rise’ of the small supplier
At the time of the announcement, First Utility founder Darren Braham blamed the rising cost of wholesale energy, network costs and governmental obligations. He also noted that the small supplier held off increasing its prices longer than the big six major suppliers.
“Although First Utility has been subject to the same challenging cost increases as other energy suppliers, we chose to delay changing our prices for as long as possible and until customers were through the coldest winter months, whereas the big six all announced price rises by the end of 2012 during a period when heating your home costs you the most,” he said in April.
First Utility’s announcement made them the third small supplier to announce looming price hikes for new and existing customers, which are all set to take effect in the coming weeks.
Starting May 9th, Co-operative Energy customers will see a price increase of their gas bills by 8.5% and electricity bills by 9%. This is an annual energy bill increase of £100 and affects 100,000 customers on the Pioneer tariff.
On May 20th, existing Ovo Energy customers will be hit with a hike of 6.5%. This was announced alongside a price rise of 5.8% that went into immediate effect for new customers.
Time to ‘jump ship’?
uSwitch Director of Consumer Policy, Ann Robinson, urges First Utility customers to start shopping around for better energy deals:
“This price hike will be a blow to First Utility’s customers. While some may be happy to swallow the increase, many more will be looking to protect themselves by jumping ship to a more competitive provider. If they haven’t already done so, they should be shopping around now.
“Thankfully, there are plenty of options available, including some attractive longer-term fixed price deals that don’t have any exit penalties attached. Given that they are currently experiencing a price hike, the idea of this no-strings-attached protection, especially if it comes at a lower price, could be very appealing to these customers.”
First Utility customers don’t necessarily need to change suppliers to get a better deal — interestingly, the small supplier offers a plan that is more than £50 less per year, the iSave v15. Customers can change to this plan without penalty.