Our solar panels have been cut off from delivering the return we need

February 17, 2013 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

We signed up for solar panels and needed to get them installed by 1 April 2012 to qualify for a preferential feed-in tariff. This set the rate we would be paid for excess electricity we sold back to Scottish Power and would eventually pay for our investment. Although we contacted the installation company several months before this cut-off date, the installation was delayed by planning procedures. The work was completed on 30 March and we sent the paperwork off on 3 April. Scottish Power had told us there was a five-day grace period, yet we were put on the lower rate, meaning that the long-term returns on our investment are now questionable. CT, Lifton, Devon

I fear you are confused about the deadlines. The cut-off date for the higher tariff paid for feeding excess electricity to energy providers was, in fact, 3 March 2012. Households which had solar panels installed on or before that date were eligible for a guaranteed43.3p per kilowatt hour; for systems installed after then, the sum halved to 21p. The 1 April deadline is the date after which all homes with solar panels had to have an energy efficiency rating of D or above, to qualify for the 21p rate. Otherwise it’s only 9p per kilowatt hour. Scottish Power says that as your application for a feed-in tariff arrived five days after the 1 April deadline, it requested that you send the required energy performance certificate and you replied that your home did not meet the required level. If you had managed to courier the paperwork over on 30 March, this would not have applied. As it is, applications are considered from the date the paperwork is received by the energy company, according to Ofgem. As for the grace period, Scottish Power would not have been at liberty to offer this since the deadlines were imposed by government. It sounds as though, in the rush to install solar systems in the three-month window between the announced tariff cuts and their implementation, some suppliers may not have been clear enough about the implications. I suspect that you’re not the only homeowner to be caught out.

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