The History of ‘The Big Six’
What is the Big Six?
We have reached the end of our Energy Series. We have already looked at How Energy is Generated in our first post, with a brief history on each of the energy sources we use in the UK, moved onto Understanding Energy Supplyin the next, and the difference between domestic and commercial energy, and will be ending the series with a more detailed look at ‘The Big Six’. These suppliers are considered the heavyweights of the energy industry, and supply their energy to 99% of the country’s domestic properties. This is a massive proportion of British homes being catered for by just six companies, so it makes sense to look at them in a little more detail.
The Big Six are:
Where Did They Come From?
It all began at the end of World War 2. At this point the country had literally hundreds of small energy companies operating, all looking to provide to the masses. Directly after the war, the Electricity Act of 1947 was passed, which saw the majority of these small companies merged into what became 15 regional electricity boards. All of these companies bought from the government though, who were the sole energy seller. The government was also in charge of the Power Stations too, including gas, coal, oil and then later nuclear supplies.
The 70’s saw the introduction of a national gas supplier, and the first of what would become the Big Six, called British Gas.
Throughout the 80’s, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher set about privatising almost everything across Britain, with the energy industry no exception. The public were offered the opportunity to buy shares in each of energy companies, including British Gas, something that they gleefully accepted. The power stations weren’t exempt either, and were also split up.
Upon reaching the 90’s, homeowners could now choose who to buy their energy from. The only issue that remained was that suppliers still owned the power stations and would distribute their energy into what was known as a ‘Pool’. The government, for obvious reasons, felt that this allowed suppliers too much control over prices, and made it incredibly difficult for new companies who rise up and compete.
The turn of the Millennium brought with it the end of the pool and the beginning of what is known as ‘The Big Market’, where suppliers sell their energy. Many of the companies that had existed were absorbed by bigger corporations. French Company EDF, Germany’s E-on and RWG, and Iberdrola of Spain are now the major global powerhouses who help provide the Big Six, who, as already mentioned supply to 99% of UK homes.
So that is a brief, but detailed, history of The Big Six energy companies. For more information, or to find out the part that Energycentric plays in all this, feel free to call us on 01708 765555, or email us with your query.