REAL – who act as a governing body for solar installers – have established that the FIT rate is at least 21p for solar panels up to 4kWp in size completed and registered before April 2012.
REAL’s email reaffirms the approach taken by EnergyLink, who have advised installers to inform customers that they will receive the 21p FIT rate for solar systems installed after 12th December 2011.
This follows a written ministerial statement by the Government, uploaded to the Department of Energy and Climate Change website on Wednesday 25th January 2012, detailing intentions to appeal to the Supreme Court, prolonging the FIT rate uncertainty
There is the possibility that the FIT rate could return to 43.3p if the Government are refused, or are granted and lose, their upcoming Supreme Court appeal; however, this can by no means be guaranteed until the appeal is heard, as outlined in REAL’s email:
“Until the outcome of the appeal is known, the Government cannot provide any certainty to consumers with installations that take place between 12 December 2011 and 2 March 2012. However, the Government has confirmed that these consumers will not receive a tariff lower than 21p (plus RPI index link) for 25 years”.
“It might be that a consumer who installs between these dates will end up getting 43.3p/kWh for the whole 25 years but this is far from certain at the moment and this expectation must not be the basis for any sale”.
REAL’s refusal to endorse a FIT rate of 43.3p ties in with the approach taken by the main energy suppliers. Five of the ‘big six’ have confirmed to EnergyLink that they will be paying 21p per kWh unless they hear otherwise from the Government, the other energy supplier was uncertain.
Significantly, none of the ‘big six’ energy suppliers confirmed that they would pay 43.3p until official confirmation was given by the Government. However, should the Government win their appeal and the FIT rate returns to 43.3p the payments would be backdated to the installation date.
If energy suppliers – who pay the Feed-in Tariff – aren’t guaranteeing a 43.3p FIT rate until officially confirmed, then neither can installers.
This is also the view adopted by REAL who, in their email, have warned solar installers currently advertising a guaranteed FIT rate of 43.3p for 25 years that they are mis-selling and could be liable to refund the shortfall:
“Please be aware that informing consumers they will definitely receive 43.3p for 25 years is mis-selling and it is a breach of the REAL Consumer Code. You must not agree a contract with a consumer on this basis. Please note that it is not acceptable to have a small print notice qualifying a misleading or incorrect claim. Should one of your consumers rely on receiving 43.3p/kWh for 25 years, but in the end does not, your company could end up refunding them the difference”.
The email also explains that companies found to be mis-selling will be reported by REAL: “The Non-Compliance Panel has asked to receive a report at the end of March of any company putting out misleading advertising, or otherwise seeking to exploit this time of uncertainty by pressurising consumers into signing contracts”.
REAL’s email, backed up by confirmation from the energy suppliers that they will pay the FIT rate of 21p until told otherwise, provides some much needed clarity for the solar industry. It should also help to prevent any solar installers from ‘mis-selling’
In simple terms, all solar installations up to 4kWp completed between 12 December 2011 and 31 March 2012 are guaranteed to receive a FIT rate of at least 21p for 25 years. This could return to 43.3p, but only if the Government are successful in their upcoming appeal over the FIT in the Supreme Court.
For customers, now represents an excellent time to invest in solar panels. A guaranteed FIT rate of 21p will give an estimated return on investment between 7.3% and 9.3%, while there is a double-win situation with the FIT rate potentially increasing to 43.3p.
EnergyLink can arrange for customers to receive three free no-obligation surveys from MCS accredited solar installers. Visit http://www.energygrants.co.uk/
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EnergyLink have a network of approved installers of energy efficient products and services in England, Scotland and Wales. All our installers can offer a free, no-obligation survey and quotation. Where grants are available for Loft Insulation & Cavity Wall Insulation, our installers can claim them on behalf of the customer.