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Selling the electricity you generate

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 1 June 2009 at 10:12 am

If you think that choosing your utility supplier is complex and painful, then just wait until you start exploring the tariffs for exporting the electricity you generate back to the grid. 

There are two main ways of selling your electricity. Some suppliers pay for all the electricity you generate (albeit at a lower rate). This is called a generation tariff and you don't need an export meter.

Others companies just pay for your surplus electricity, which is metered as you export it. This is an export tariff. If you only have a small surplus, the generation tariff will probably suit you better. For a large surplus, the export tariff is likely to be more lucrative.

Then you need to think about Renewable Obligation Certificates (one is issued for every MWh of electricity generated). Some companies will act as your agent, claiming the ROCs from Ofgem for you. This makes life much simpler as Ofgem's systems aren't particularly user-friendly for microgenerators.

Then each company has a range of different rates for different technologies, and different sizes of installation. And most companies will want you to buy your electricity from them too, so you have to weigh up what they charge you for the electricity you buy from them against the price they buy off you for.

So now you're juggling all those thoughts in your head, you have to track down information about what's on offer. Your installer will have a good idea about what are the best offers at the moment. Alternatively there's now a tool available from the Energy Saving Trust which helps you find all the available buy back tariffs.

It's a huge improvement on trying to find them in your favourite search engine. It will be interesting to see how well the EST manages to keep it up to date. It's a thankless task. Recently I was checking rates quoted on this site, and four different sources gave me four different prices for Scottish & Southern's Solar EnergyPlus tariff. When I emailed S&S I found that the rate on their own website was (and still is) wrong, as was the rate on the EST website (it's right now), and one from an installer. So good luck to EST, and congratulations for taking on what's a vital, but thankless, task.

While the EST tool is a good start, it doesn't solve all the complexities of choosing the right partnership. Maybe it's something one of the energy comparison sites could add it to their systems?

photo by Brian Kusler

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