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Contingent Liability: Energy Supply Company Special Administration Regime

Volume 714: debated on Tuesday 17 May 2022

Today I will lay before Parliament a departmental minute describing a contingent liability arising from the issuance of a letter of credit for the energy administrators acting in the special administration regime for Bulb Energy Ltd (“Bulb”). This letter of credit replaces a previous one originally provided in December, which was extended in February and March, and which has now expired.

It is normal practice when a Government Department proposes to undertake a contingent liability of £300,000 and above, for which there is no specific statutory authority, for the Department concerned to present Parliament with a minute giving particulars of the liability created and explaining the circumstances.

I regret that, as a result of continued negotiations with the counterparty and the reduced parliamentary sitting period, I have not followed the usual notification timelines to allow the full 14-day consideration period of these issues in advance of issuing the letter of credit.

Bulb entered the energy supply company special administration regime on 24 November 2021. Energy administrators were appointed by court to achieve the statutory objective of continuing energy supplies at the lowest reasonable practicable cost until such time as it becomes unnecessary for the special administration to remain in force for that purpose.

My Department has agreed to provide a facility to the energy administrators, with a letter of credit issued, with my approval, to guarantee such contract, code, licence, or other document obligations of the company consistent with the special administration’s statutory objective. I will update the House if any letters of credit are drawn against.

The legal basis for a letter of credit is section 165 of the Energy Act 2004, as applied and modified by section 96 of the Energy Act 2011.

HM Treasury has approved the arrangements in principle.

[HCWS33]