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Business energy renewal: an SME guide

If you didn’t renegotiate your energy tariff at the end of your fixed term contract, you may be paying over the odds. Find out how you can make sure you get the best value for money on your business energy…

The energy sector is undergoing rapid changes. Renewal used to be a perilous time for SMEs, when some business energy suppliers would ask for complicated notifications (such as a formal termination via registered post within a tight window). Overworked smaller business owners would often find themselves unwittingly locked into a one-year, two-year or three-year business energy contract, with prices that were far from the best on the market.

Rules on business energy contract renewal

Ofgem changed the rules in July 2015, allowing smaller businesses to tell their supplier they want to switch at the end of their deal at any time before the notice period.

For contracts starting on or after 30 April 2015, the maximum notice period for terminating a micro business contract has been reduced from 90 to 30 days. Around 60 days before a fixed-term ends, suppliers must also now tell small firms how much energy they use each year, and give them details on how the price of their current deal compares with the new prices. This information is extremely useful if you want to switch business energy supplier without spending lots of time speaking to different suppliers.

While the situation has undoubtedly improved, research has proven that the majority of SME customers do not fully understand their business energy bills. This can commonly leave businesses open to being overcharged for ‘deemed contracts’ or ‘deemed rates’, out-of-contract business energy tariffs that cost up to 80% more.

This is surprisingly common: the same research also showed that more than 30% of small businesses have been shunted onto a ‘deemed contract’ (30.4%) with the same supplier at the end of a fixed contract.

While most larger business energy suppliers no longer roll over SME customers, the practice does continue with some of the smaller suppliers.

Best business energy contract renewals

Clearly, there are still pitfalls to be negotiated in business energy contract renewal. Termination must be handled carefully – any breach of contract could result in fines from your old supplier or even legal action (possibly from the new business energy supplier).

Lengthy contracts written in impenetrable legalese are challenging at the best of times. When you have other competing priorities, mistakes are all too easy to make: the SwithcMyBusiness research found that more than a quarter of smaller to medium sized businesses (25.6%) do not fully understand how to terminate their current business energy contract.

Expert advice is almost invaluable in navigating this confusing situation. All customers are always contacted ahead of their renewal date to ensure they have the option to switch to the cheapest energy supplier.

If you have yet to benefit from our sector leading business energy switch service (we are the highest rated business energy provider on independent ratings site TrustPilot) you can still get the best deals in only 20 minutes so give us a call on 0330 0100 251 (or request a call back using our form) now to start saving.

Our dedicated pages have lots more information about business gas and business electricity.

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