LONDON (Reuters) – British energy supplier Centrica said on Thursday it had pledged to protect customer deposits, amounting to 294 million pounds ($400.25 million), and urged the energy watchdog Ofgem to regulate that all suppliers must protect consumers’ money.

Soaring prices over the past year have forced around 30 UK energy suppliers out of the market, 26 of which have gone bankrupt since August 2021.

“The current UK energy market crisis has seen a large number of suppliers use customer credit to finance unsustainable business models and subsequently collapse, leading to the disappearance of over 500 million pounds of British consumer money,” Centrica said in a statement.

“As a responsible and sustainable provider, Centrica protects customer deposits and currently holds £294 million in a segregated bank account,” the company said, referring to the amount held after customers made prepayments for their energy supply.

Centrica has urged UK energy regulator Ofgem to ensure all energy suppliers protect customers’ money and to ensure a stronger regulatory framework is in place for energy suppliers to avoid a repeat of the current energy crisis.

It comes a day after Ofgem announced the introduction of two short-term measures to help stabilize the UK energy market to protect consumers who face a further rise in energy prices from of April after raising its ceiling on the most used energy tariffs by 54%. .

“The cost of energy company failures, including lost consumer money, is adding to every UK consumer’s energy bills and is responsible for 10% of Ofgem’s recent price increase,” Centrica said. .

Sky News reported on Wednesday that Ofgem faces a court hearing on Thursday which seeks to limit the regulator’s ability to seek hundreds of millions of pounds from the remains of collapsed suppliers.

Ofgem said it would not comment on ongoing legal proceedings.

($1 = 0.7345 pounds)

(Reporting by Marwa Rashad; Editing by Susan Fenton)