Big Ben Clock Tower in London, England

LONDON (Reuters) – EDF Energy, one of Britain’s big six energy suppliers, lost 200,000 customers in 2018, French parent company EDF said in its group results on Friday.

Britain’s large energy suppliers are facing competition from more than 60 smaller challengers which now control around 25 percent of the market, up from just 1 percent around seven years ago.

EDF Energy’s residential accounts for gas and electricity fell to 4.9 million combined, the company said.

EDF’s UK arm also said the suspension of payments under Britain’s capacity market, to provide electricity during high demand, had cost the company 69 million pounds.

A European Union court ruling last year forced Britain to halt payments under the scheme, but Britain’s government says it expects to make retrospective payments once it is reinstated.

“We are confident the Capacity Market suspension will be lifted and that these payments will be made in due course,” EDF said in a statement.

Generation at EDF’s British nuclear fleet fell 7.5 percent to 59.1 terrawatt hours mainly due to prolonged outages at four of its 15 UK reactors.

These units, at its Hunterston and Dungeness B power plants, are expected to return to service in the second quarter of 2019.

EDF’s group results, which also include its French nuclear business, included a forecast for 2019 core earnings of 15.3 to 16 billion euros, below analysts’ expectations for about 16 billion.

(Reporting by Susanna Twidale; Editing by Mark Potter)

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