IT was supposed to save struggling social housing tenants hundreds of pounds and tackle fuel poverty.

But yesterday Our Power, the UK’s first independent non-profit making energy distribution company, went bust.

At its 2015 launch, it was claimed that the Edinburgh-based provider could serve tenants in 200,000 homes across Scotland within five years.

Backed by a £2.5 million Scottish Government loan and another worth £1m from Social Investment Scotland, it claimed it could help households in the country’s worst-off communities save a collective £11m by 2020, compared with standard tariffs offered by the “Big Six” companies.

These include Scottish Power and npower among others.

The 38,000 domestic customers who had signed up with Our Power – including prepayment meters, which carry higher charges for users – were yesterday advised to “sit tight” as Ofgem works to appoint an alternative provider.

In a statement on its website, Our Power – set up by 35 founder-member organisations including housing associations and Stirling and Fife Councils – said: “Customers should not worry, their supplies are secure and credit balances are protected through the transfer to a new supplier. Prepayment customers should continue to top up and payments will be allocated to their meters as usual.

“Ofgem’s advice is not to try to switch, but to sit tight and wait until the new supplier has been appointed. This will help make sure that the process of handing customers over to a new supplier, and honouring credit balances, is as hassle-free for customers as possible.”

Our Power is the latest small operator to collapse.

While there were more than 10 independent companies trading a decade ago, this rose to around 60 as consumer dissatisfaction over energy costs grew.

However, the lights have gone out at a number of firms in recent months, including Economy Energy, Spark Energy and Future Energy.

Ofgem says it will inform Our Power customers about their new supplier in due course.

The regulator’s Philippa Pickford said: “Our message to energy customers with Our Power is there is no need to worry, as under our safety net we will make sure your energy supplies are secure and your credit balance is protected.”

“Ofgem will now choose a new supplier for you, ensuring you get the best deal possible. Whilst we’re doing this our advice is to ‘sit tight’ and don’t switch. You can rely on your energy supply as normal. We will update you when we have chosen a new supplier, who will then get in touch about your new tariff.”

“We have seen a number of supplier failures over the last year and our safety net procedures are working as they should to protect customers.”

While Our Power’s official website displayed a clear message to visitors yesterday, its social media pages did not.

The operator described itself as a “revolutionary non-profit distributing energy company, founded by social housing & local authority innovators aiming to bring affordable power to the people”.

Instead of information about the collapse, the final post on both Facebook and Twitter was a shared message by Citizens Advice Scotland advising households to “save hundreds of pounds each year by switching to a better deal”.

Now Citizens Advice Scotland says Our Power customers must be protected from rocketing bills.

Energy policy manager Jamie Stewart told The National: “Our Power were also one of few companies offering tariffs to customers with restricted meters and electric heating. Any new supplier that takes on Our Power customers should make tariffs available to those customers too.”