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Are you actually receiving your solar FIT payments?

If you invest in solar panels you could make money back on the electricity you generate through the Feed-in Tariff scheme. Sounds appealing, but what happens if your energy company fails to make the payments?

The Feed-in Tariff scheme was introduced in 2010 to encourage the use of low-carbon energy. For solar panel owners, it means that you can claim payments for the energy you generate, whether you use it yourself or sell it back to the national grid.

Since it was brought in, the Feed-in Tariff scheme (FIT) has certainly caused its fair share of controversies. It’s funded by a levy on energy bills, meaning that those who don’t have solar panels end up paying money to those who do. But if you took the plunge and installed panels, how easy have you found it to get hold of the money owed?

If you’ve installed solar panels within the last two years or so, it’s likely that by now you’ll be claiming FIT payments from your energy supplier. But despite the contracts in place, we have received a number of letters, emails and phone calls from solar panel owners saying that payments have been irregular, late and in some cases not made at all.

Losing out on solar FIT payments

Your contract should tell you when you can expect to receive your FIT payments, but might lean on terms such as ‘best endeavours’ and get-out clauses. One member I spoke to said that their supplier owed them £1,000 for electricity generated for the grid, most of which had been declared in their meter readings almost six months beforehand!

This is all well and good for the energy companies’ cash flow, but not so great for our wallets. While practice such as this could be protected by the contractual terms, it seems unfair that consumers should have to lose out to this extent.

We want to investigate these late payments and find out how common they are. If you have solar panels, how long do you generally wait for your payments, compared to what your contract says?

Comments

We have registred with SSE in December 2015 , we are now in April and still waiting for a contract although we have contacted them on numerous occasions. We have been told they are a bit “behind” with all the paperwork and back log payments….. Not sure how everybody feels but I soo regret I wanted to do the right thing and spend so much money on something which just giving me sleepless nights… I am so upset about the complete lack of interest on their part to do anything about it.

Help! I don’t even know where to start. I had solar panels fitted in September 2014. I incorrectly thought the installer had sorted the FIT paperwork with the energy supplier. I found out in 2015 this was not so. I chased my energy supplier for forms to complete on a number of occasions and complained earlier this year. Regrettably, I have not kept on top of this. I finally received the form a few weeks ago and since completing it, I have been told I am not eligible for the FIT scheme as date barred? Now nearly £10k out of pocket. Installer ceased trading earlier in the year. What do I do? I feel well and truly stupid.

Hello Gillian, thank you for your comment. I’m sorry to hear about this, it sounds like a nightmare. So as you mentioned, for solar panels fitted before 15th January 2016 you would have needed to have registered these with your energy supplier by 31 March 2016.

But there are some options that you may wish to follow up on. Firstly, you may want to speak to your energy supplier and find out what caused the delay in issuing the paperwork, and what their complaints procedures are for this. Secondly, it would be useful for you to follow up with the Energy Savings Trust (http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/contact-us) to see if there’s any advice or means to register your solar panels. And thirdly, if you feel there’s a possible breach of contract with how your solar panels were sold to you by the installation company, then you may be able to use Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act to get your money back if you paid for any of it using a credit card – more info here: http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/regulation/section-75-of-the-consumer-credit-act

Andy Rein says:
20 March 2019

Hello, I have exactly the same problem! I have the solar panels for 4 years now and never got a penny in FIT. Provide blamed paperwork and than they said we are out of date. Have you managed to sort something out since? Thanks, Andy.

I had Solar panels fitted to my home, 16 panels in total in January 2015 at the time I was with British Gas since March 2017 I changed to EDF, I have not received a single penny of feed in tariff. non of the companies bother to respond when queried, I am seriously thinking of legal action .

We bought a new house with solar panels already installed. I sent pages of information to BG 2 mnths ago.
I rang them this week and was told that though I had stated that we have 6 panels producing 2 KW in total, I hadn’t given the amount each panel produced. I naively said that surely it must be 2 KW divided by 6 giving 0.33 KW, but was told the goverment would not accept this as it is a recurrung decimal value.
Back to the builders for an answer (hopefully). Andy

Maggie Hughes says:
4 March 2020

I had a smart meter fitted at the end of August last year and since then all my bills have shown my FIT payments as zero, despite sending in my readings every month (which I shouldn’t have to do with a smart meter). The smart meter separate display does not work and the company don’t seem to be bothered to sort out the problem. Because of the way the new smart meter has been fitted, I now cannot access the fuse switches easily; I have complained and they said I would have to pay to have it moved.

Richard Sawko says:
6 April 2020

I submitted my latest readings on 21st March which is now 3 weeks ago. British Gas have not responded to my emails asking whether they have received it or when payment cheque will be sent through

John Edwards says:
1 July 2020

I’ve been receiving FIT payments since 2011 from British Gas. Last payment 23/10/19. Each payment received after an email asking for a FIT reading and me supplying a reading. No email since then. Email address link for British Gas enquiries can not be found after clicking on link. Date now 01/07/20. Anyone else suffering the same? Have British Gas stopped sending out requests for readings? If so a nice money earner.

Tony C says:
2 July 2020

SSE also appears to have ceased FIT payments or any response to on-line readings, accounts or emails questioning this. Their one contact phone appears constantly busy. I have submitted 2 readings for 2020 (latest 02 July 20) to a resounding silence and no payments. They are of course continuing to take my money by debit for my gas & electricity. As noted elsewhere, a nice little earner for them and causing me to have to top up money between bank accounts as the FIT payment goes towards other bills in my case. Clearly SSE have decided to cease any payments because they can, despite the same money coming in, even with the current situation for the rest us.

Tony – Do you think this might have something to do with SSE/Southern Electric having transferred their retail operation to OVO Energy recently, although they are still trading under the SSE names?