The regulator introduced powers to oblige energy companies to participate in its consumer engagement trials following the Competition and Markets Authority’s investigation into the energy market.
Last month, Ofgem issued the Big Six supplier with a formal direction requiring it to allow 100,000 of its customers on more expensive default deals for three years or more to take part in the collective switching trial this winter, however, “npower has so far refused to fully comply” as it has agreed to allow only 50,000 customers.
It has now issued the supplier with a provisional order.
More than one in five disengaged energy customers saw average savings of around £300 a year under the previous trial run by the regulator – it wants to run another one this autumn to test if more customers could benefit from it.
Mary Starks, Executive Director of Consumers and Markets at Ofgem said: “While the price cap will tackle poor value default tariffs, consumers can still save money by switching to better deals. We are exploring ways to make that easier, including the simplified collective switch.
“npower is denying customers the opportunity to take part in the next collective switch trial. It is disappointing that we are having to resort to legal action. This should send a clear message to all suppliers that they need to live up to their responsibilities to help all customers get a better energy deal.”
A spokesperson from npower said: “npower is committed to improving customers engagement and we have said to Ofgem that we’ll undertake a collective switch trial of 50,000 customers immediately and this is now unfortunately delayed.
“We are disappointed that, at the final hour, we have not been able to agree some detailed points with Ofgem including their request to undertake an even bigger trial of 100,000 customers. Npower will respond quickly to the action Ofgem has taken in order to allow us to move ahead with the trial as soon as possible.”