Brilliant Energy – Fly By Night Companies Should Go Bust, That’s How Markets Work

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There’s a certain lack of understanding of the basic system behind this demand that the regulator should be making sure fly by night companies don’t turn up in the energy market. For the very point of this having a market thing is so that those who can’t hack it go bust. That is, we’ve already got the sorting mechanism to get rid of the deluded, the charlatans and the just plain wrongheaded – the market bankrupting them.

The energy regulator faces renewed calls to toughen up on fly-by-night suppliers as the tally of failed energy companies reached three in less than three months. The latest supplier to fold, Brilliant Energy, brings the total number of energy supply start-ups that have gone under to 11 in the space of a year.

The collapse will also hit homes that have chosen to buy their gas and power from Northumbrian Energy, which marketed Brilliant Energy’s offering under its own “white label” brand. Philippa Pickford of Ofgem said all of Brilliant Energy’s customers had “no need to worry” because their energy supplies were secure and credit balances with Brilliant would be protected.

Think about our basic desire here. Given that technology marches on there is an ever expanding universe of different ways that things can be done. There’s that ever greater technological envelope of things that can be achieved too. We’ve no idea, no idea at all, which of the things that can be done, which of the new methods that might be employed, will work. Work in the sense of adding value as defined by the consumer to the resources used to do it.

Pet rocks made people happy for a time, ditto Simon Cowell. No planner would ever believe either. The market did discover them to the dubious benefit of consumers.

So, the solution? People get to set up to do whatever, however. We then stand back and see whether consumers agree. Are they willing to pay more than it costs to provide this thing? If not, bankruptcy arrives as our sorting mechanism.

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This is as true of electricity supply as it is of anything else. Sure, we hem the market around with some technological restrictions, they don’t get to feed gerbils down the lines instead of electrons but within those constraints get on with it and have fun.

That is, the bankruptcy of a supplier in this market is how we toughen up. It’s the only method we can be using too. So why these appeals to the regulator? Sadly, it’s because all too many just don’t get the point that markets are already performing this task for us. As with so much of what’s wrong with the world we’re afflicted by general ignorance and human stupidity.