Skip to main content
Observer Ethical awards Winners 2011

YouGen Blog

Which energy company is the most helpful about the feed-in tariff

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 28 April 2011 at 9:44 am

Choosing your feed-in tariff supplier is important. Their efficiency, or lack of it, will affect how quickly and accurately you get paid for the electricity you generate, and you don't have to use the same supplier as you use to buy electricity.

A recent blog outlined the questions you should ask before choosing a supplier. We also wanted to find out how helpful the companies are, and how well they explain how the feed-in tariff works to a beginner. So we commissioned a mystery shopping expedition, and asked our shopper to feedback on how easy it was to find the contact information, and how helpful the person who answered the phone was once she got through.

The good news is that she found them all very knowledgeable about the feed-in tariff, and the ranking that follows is based on how easy their explanation was to follow for a complete novice.

Most helpful at explaining the feed-in tariff

1. NPower - definitely the most helpful, patient and spent the most time explaining everything in plain speak

2. Ecotricity - also very knowledgeable, helpful and very willing to go over things again for me.

3. Good Energy - I think they would probably also be in joint 4th place if it wasn't for their fantastic FIT fact file on their website which I was referred to if I needed any further information

4. A tie between Southern Electric, Scottish Power and British Gas. They are too close to pick apart - all very helpful and explained how the Feed in tariff works well

5. EDF - not the most knowledgeable on the phone but they were the only company who sent out an info pack which is incredibly informative

6. E.on - Shame really as I felt the information she was giving to me was 2nd to the big sale on E.on's solar panels and could they give me a quote.

Easiest for finding correct contact information

1. Good Energy - 0845 456 1640
Link right on the home page to 'loads of great information, especially the FIT Factfile, which is laid out in a question/answer format. Link to feed-in tariff section of website appears in Google results.

2. Scottish Power - 0845 270 1414
Fairly straightforward to find contact details

3. Southern Electric - 08450 76 76 34

4. E.on - 0800 015 9590

5. Ecotricity - 0800 030 2302
While navigation to it's feed-in tariff section only requires two clicks, by calling it Microtricity, it makes it difficult to find. It is the only other company whose link appears in search results, but again, by calling it Microtricity many people won't recognise that's what they want to click.

6. npower - 0845 078 2977
Easy to find the feed-in tariff page, but once you're there, the prominent phone number turns out to be the sales department for solar panels, and the number for the microgeneration team is in much smaller print further down the page.

7. British Gas - 0800 107 0187
The home page gave a really obvious energy efficiency tab, with a link to renewable energy, but the phone number given was only for insulation. The number above is for the microgeneration team, but is not advertised on the website. Our shopper had to hold for 18 minutes before it was answered.

8. EDF - 0800 404 9087
EDF makes it very difficult to find any mention of home generation or the feed-in tariff on its website.

Most annoying

This accolade goes to E.on. Our shopper's comment is as follows: "Really informative, but no matter how many times I said I was happy with the quotes I had received for solar PV panes, and that we were going to go ahead with an installer, she kept trying to get me to give E.on a chance to quote. Very annoying. I must have said no thanks at least five or six times, and then she finished the phone call by saying she would put their solar panel brochure in the post."

NB: This article is based on one phone call to each company - so it is a snapshot, rather than statistically significant research.

More information about energy companies and feed-in tariffs from YouGen

How to choose your feed-in tariff supplier

Got a feed-in tariff complaint? You may need this guide!

Over 70% of Eon customers have problems getting FIT payments

Energy companies rated on FIT customer service

Feed-in tariff information page

Photo by net_efekt

By

If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.

Like this blog? Keep up to date with our free monthly newsletter

Comments

29 comments - read them below or add one

scottjr

scottjrComment left on: 10 December 2014 at 3:33 pm

I am not at all happy with SSE as a FIT tariff supplier.

They make me wait 12 weeks for my income from my panels. They have never sent a calculation on my meter readings.

They have now told me that there are making exciting changes.

this means I cannot now give a rerading due on 31st December but will write to me upgrading me to a new system in February 2014 when I can then give my readings from 30 September.  This simply has the effect of delaying my latest quarter payment by another 6 weeks.

This is sharp practice from a major company.

I have sold my shares in SSE and have transferred my consuption account to OVO who are well organised.

report abuse

Cathy Debenham

Cathy DebenhamComment left on: 3 June 2013 at 8:12 am

Hi Graham

The correct export rate depends on when you installed your system. For earlier adopters like yourself who are on a high generation tariff and a FIT that pays out over 25 years it is 3.3p. For more recent installations on a lower generation tariff, and a 20 year FIT, the export tariff is 4.5p.

report abuse

gstark

gstarkComment left on: 2 June 2013 at 1:44 pm

I have had my solar panel since 24/04/2010 and at the moment I am on a generated tariff of 46.81p KWh and 3.3p/KWh for my export rate.

I see from your article that Solar PV should be on 4.5p/KWh which is the correct figure?

I also have an import/export meter fitted by SSE.

Regards,

Graham Stark.

report abuse

Fred1

Fred1Comment left on: 27 April 2012 at 7:53 pm

I complained to Ofgem re slow payment.

There is apparently nothing in any regulation that specifies when the Electricity company has to pay, there are regulations about how to check, how to calculate etc but apparently no rule which states they must pay within x days...... so tough....

Have you thought about writing to your MP and asking him to write to a DECC minister. Ofgem, administer, they do not legislate ....

I got a "special payment" within 14 days of complaining to my MP

DECC should have thought of this when writing the rules.....

 

 

report abuse

downies

downiesComment left on: 25 April 2012 at 3:09 pm

Wondering if the problems we are experiencing with Eon are common.(They provide our electricity) FIT application acknowleged by email on 11/12/11 and NO communication since. Despite several phone calls (all logged) and a couple of emails (automated replies) we still have not received an Acceptance Form. Apparently the installation was registered with Ofgem on 07/02/12. We have generated over 1000 units. Having received apologies and promises of Acceptance Form by email or post by following day and been told that a complaint would be raised, we were informed on 16/04 that they were now dealing with Feb registrations so no hint of apology proffered ! What can we do?

report abuse

Cathy Debenham

Cathy DebenhamComment left on: 25 April 2012 at 2:44 pm

You could complain to Ofgem. But it may not speed things up. Essentially most of the big six haven't put enough resource in their FITs departments to deal with the spikes in business over the past six months. They should pay you from the date they received your form, although it may take them a while to get round to it. The most important thing is that they have acknowledged receipt of your application form which means that your system will be eligible from that date. It's not good enough, but I don't think that there's anything much you can do to speed things up.

report abuse

GlobalWarning

GlobalWarningComment left on: 1 December 2011 at 9:10 pm

After my install yesterday, I hand-delivered my paperwork this morning to British Gas HQ in Old Trafford, Manchester.  I have to say, the representative from the FIT team came down quickly to deal with me, and was very knowledgeable and courteous.  She volunteered that payments would be made from installation date, and said that the processing would take about three weeks, owing to current pressures.  I hope that's so.  She was happy to photocopy the receipted paperwork for me as evidence on my request. 

I haven't always found BG to be a company you'd want to deal with, so I hope this is going to be OK....!

 

report abuse

cliomadness

cliomadnessComment left on: 30 October 2011 at 3:27 pm

the eligibility date that is so widely discussed is a bit of a nightmare and its something i know very well about. unfortunately its something that very few people other than the providers are aware of. not only this but now providers are starting to look into providing only feed in tariffs to their customers this i have seen evidence of this week. having seen a letter from n power telling someone that they couldnt apply becuase they were a customer of british gas so to go and apply to e.on?

fantastic response eh? not only this none of them seem to have the eligibility date or (5 day rule) as its commonly known on their application form and state this is because its not one of ther terms and conditions. its actually decided by DECC (department or energy and climate chage)

also i would like to point out that you must have called the wrong number with eon their fit team is on 0845 301 4884 and have nothing to do with solar panel sales they work feed in tariffs only.

report abuse

nnw49

nnw49Comment left on: 28 October 2011 at 3:30 pm

I've signed with nPower for my FiT provider and have found them to be very slow and inefficient: I'm told that they have 3 staff in their FiT department. I tried to be organised before my PV was fitted in getting nPower to fit a whole house isolation switch so that the installer could work safely. At both the time of booking and its installation I checked to make sure my meter was suitable and was told it was (it dated from the mid 1990s) Low and behold, when the PV was online in April, the meter went backwards when I was exporting ! So, I ticked the "my meter goes backwards" box on the FiT application form... Time passed. As I'd asked/told them 3 times about the issue, I thought I'd done my bit and it was nPower's loss... In September I changed energy supplier and thought I really ought to tell them that there was an issue with the meter. Quite understandably they were not happy! Back to nPower: you're not a customer any more, so we can't fit one (they are still paying my FiT - so I would have thought I WAS still a customer!). New supplier will fit one, but at a price, so I go back to nPower and suggest they might like to pay for it - which to my surprise they DID, with relatively little remonstration! Overall impression of nPower - pathetic, slow and inefficient! Oh - and they lost my initial "posted in" application form and tried to tell me that they wouldn't pay until they received my electric version - but in the end they DID pay back to the day I filled in the form and posted it... My advice would be to both email AND post copies of the form, MCS certificate and receipt (and whatever else a supplier my insist on) rather than relying on one delivery mechanism!

report abuse

Cathy Debenham

Cathy DebenhamComment left on: 21 October 2011 at 5:17 am

Hi Janet. What a coincidence that you've just posted this question, as I've just written a blog about it. This is what Ofgem says about when FiT eligibility starts: 

"Feed-in tariff (FIT) payments start on the eligibility date of the installation. Eligibility date for FIT Installations is the later of the commissioning date or the application date. Effectively meaning you have to commission and apply for the scheme to be eligible to receive payments. We would advise people to apply soon after [their system is] commissioned, but regardless generators will receive a fixed period of support from their eligibility date based on the technology type. i.e. 25 years for PV."

Click here to read it the blog full.

You'll get 25 years of feed-in tariff, whenever the FIT starts. That doesn't excuse energy companies for giving bad advice, or for losing forms, both of which happen more often than they should, so I can see why you're angry. 

You don't say whether the 189kWh are what you've generated or what you've exported. In terms of the generation tariff, no one anywhere else is benefitting from that - you benefit from what you use in the house, but no one's being paid for it. You will miss out on a little export payment, but even if you exported the whole lot, at the export tariff rate of 3.1p per kWh you've only lost out on £5.86!

report abuse

June Kirkman

June KirkmanComment left on: 20 October 2011 at 1:15 pm

I rang SSE a couple of weeks before my installation (29Mar11) to ask for the FIT forms and was told there was nothing else I needed to do it would be done on the MCS certificate.  I duely filled out the forms with the installation engineer and sent them off in the prepaid envelope.  Not having heard anything for a couple of weeks I rang SSE and was told to email the copies (luckily, thanks to the engineer,I had taken copies) also told "will not effect your generation as done on MCS certificate".

When eventually I got the contract the elligibilty date is 2 weeks later and 186 KWh are beng ignored.  I have contacted them but they hide behind elligibility date as they say I signed the contract and it was in the small print although you would have to be a lawyer to spot it.  I am angry because :-

1 I was misinformed by 2 members of staff who never mentioned eligibilty date despite me asking if there was anything else I needed to do,

2.  They lost the original forms which I would have sent registered mail if I had realised their significance.

3. The fact that it was a lottery if I had written or emailed to ask for the forms I would have been OK - if they had responded which they don't always do.

Has any-one tried sending them an invoice for the energy they obtained when they say they did not have a contract.  The energy was being fed in so it has either been obtained fraudulently or they need to pay?

report abuse

Cathy Debenham

Cathy DebenhamComment left on: 15 October 2011 at 1:53 am

Hi Nnalsem. This is not something that I've ever heard about before. My advice would be to make a quick phone call to the microgeneration team at whichever energy company you currently buy your electricity from, and ask them to confirm whether or not your meter needs to be changed. 

If yours is a domestic installation, it is most likely that you will have your export tariff 'deemed' at half of what you generate, so I'm not sure what your installer is talking about. 

report abuse

nnalsem

nnalsemComment left on: 14 October 2011 at 4:13 pm

So much confusion about the electricity meter.

One of the companies quoting for a PV system insists that our meter must be changed because the system will not work with the meter we have at present.

We have what we were told a “tamper proof” electricity meter (Multirate Single Phase Watt Hour Meter). It does not have the turning disk as in the old ones.

The company states that electricity cannot be fed back through this meter and therefore the PV system will not work properly. They emphasized that they have experienced this a few times on other projects.

They also stated that another company who said that it will work is wrong. They will find this out when the PV system is installed and have to prove that it works. At that point it will be clear that the meter has to be changed.

The company who insists on the meter to be changed told me that many installers and also electricity supply companies are not aware yet of this problem.

Our electricity supplier told us they never heard of this problem but the installer keeps telling us that he is right and knows it from experience.

It is al so confusing. We like to install a PV system but need an answer as to what the situation is.

Can you enlighten me on this issue?

Kind regards,

nnalsem

report abuse

Bigden

BigdenComment left on: 6 October 2011 at 3:24 pm

I was surprised to see a comment about it being difficult to get contact information for Eon. Google search Eon, on their main site click on Solar Panels, On the left click on Feed in Tariffs, Everything is there including FAQs, a downloadable application form and a contact number. Simples

report abuse

Bigden

BigdenComment left on: 6 October 2011 at 3:17 pm

I installed PV 5 months ago and went to BG, my dual fuel supplier. Their contract promises to pay FIT expediously and efficiently. Their meter reading acknowledgement and FAQs promise payment within 28 working days, or nearly 6 weeks from reading, not expeditious . In fact they took 37 working days or almost 2 months, not efficient. 13 working days ago I made a formal complaint with no answer yet. (however they did then process the payment same day) This is appalling service. I have now set in motion the process of moving to Eon, they took 7 days for a friend of mine.

 

report abuse

Energy Champion

Energy ChampionComment left on: 29 July 2011 at 4:38 pm

I've been involved in renewable energy for a very long time and do expect the best from the companies I deal with.  My recent experience with British Gas has left me thinking that they are the amateurs in this field.  I have tried to contact their 'Feed In Tariff Team' on 7 occasions by phone, each time I'm left hanging on listening to mindless music for up to an hour without a response.  I've tried to email them but again no response.  I have to ask the question why?  Are they serious about helping the industry or determined to give it a bad name?  All I can say is don't waste your time on the phone!

report abuse

Gilly Jones

Gilly JonesComment left on: 18 July 2011 at 2:00 pm

We've just been informed by a memeber of the YouGen community  that the number for EDF FIT contact number is no longer in use. They say ' I just contacted their Green Team on 0800 404 9087 and they were very helpful..'

report abuse

Silva

SilvaComment left on: 12 July 2011 at 4:17 pm

I am surprised at seeing British Gas up there in any list that has the word "helpful" next to it. I have had solar panels installed and thought I had to go with BG -my supplier - thank you for the info I will now shop around. BG does not have the Feed in tariff application form on its website. When I  tried to phone them I gave up after hanging on for over 2 hours (luckly I went through main switchboard so they rang me back and paid for the call - this does not happen if you ring a direct line). I then delved in the internet and found a direct email address for the team (not easily found and not on the website) and got the form.

Feed in Form completed and sent back with certificate; 1 month later no acknowledgement, still cannot get through to them on phone, no response from email. BG complaint team tell me there is nothing they can do about it; they cannot get through to them neither; say the team for the whole of the country and for all Green issue is only 9 people; they are recruiting more staff but cannot tell me when they will activate payment process - could be months.... I am surprised at the lack of publicity on this issue - I cannot be the only one (as the complaint team tell me they are inundated with complaints about this); is there a conspiracy to keep this quiet not to deter people from installing panels?

I will now apply to another company but am concerned that I may lose all monies generated so far - does anyone know about this? I will try npower; There is someone up the road from me who has waited 4 months so far from his supplier (not BG this time). Anyone else with the same experience?

report abuse

Woody

WoodyComment left on: 23 June 2011 at 1:03 pm

Jeff B's comment that he will not get paid for the units before his first contact.  I contacted npower on the day of installation - but they don't deem contact until they receive the completed request form on their desk!  How can we complain about the service we are receiving?  Is there an official office over these companies and systems.  Until we provide examples and evidence of our experiences, nothing will be done.

report abuse

Cathy Debenham

Cathy DebenhamComment left on: 23 June 2011 at 12:59 pm

Ofgem oversees the scheme. Here's some information from its website:

Disputes

Ofgem does not have a direct role in dealing with general complaints against a FIT Licensee. 

Complaints against a FIT Licensee should be directed towards the FIT Licensee in the first instance. All FIT Licensees have a duty to participate in the complaints process in relation to compliance with their obligation under the FIT scheme. If after 12 weeks a satisfactory solution has not been agreed between both parties, the complaint may then be referred to the Energy Ombudsman at 0845 055 0760 or by going to the Energy Ombudsman website.

More information on complaint procedures and processes under the scheme is available from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) website.

The Feed-in Tariff Scheme is carefully monitored by Ofgem to prevent abuse. If you believe that someone is abusing the scheme, then please contact us with details. Anything you tell us will be used confidentially, email fitregister@ofgem.gov.uk or telephone 0207 901 1829.

report abuse

Cathy Debenham

Cathy DebenhamComment left on: 23 June 2011 at 11:06 am

Comment received from AW:

I am having problems with Npower. I had solar installed 23.3.11 and didn't realise what I had to do with Npower. I phoned them on the day of installation and they said they would send a form. It never arrived and eventually after two further phone calls I received a form and returned it. They logged receiving it on 26 April and it is only from this time that they will start payments! I have been producing since 23.3.11. They will not accept the meter reading of nil. Did they stall the sending of the form on purpose to save them money? The fact that they do not acknowledge your system until the day they stamp your form was not mentioned anywhere in advertising or correspondence that I received. Does this stink?.

Yes, I think it stinks. I'd be interested to hear from others how their energy company has reacted in a similar situation.

report abuse

Cathy Debenham

Cathy DebenhamComment left on: 23 June 2011 at 10:17 am

Thank you Grasmere for all that very useful information. I'll have a dig around and try and find out more about the need to notify the power distributor of PV systems between 3.5 and 4kWp, and whether it's just in the south west. 

report abuse

Grasmere

GrasmereComment left on: 17 June 2011 at 11:14 pm

Has anybody got information on a WiFi connection from their inverter to their computer.                                                                My instalation has recently been installed, my current electricity supplier is EDF and they were not very helpfull when I started asking questions especially about Export Meters etc, having spoken to several suppliers about FIT and Export Meters only Ecotricity  ( Microtricity)were willing to talk about Export Meters being fitted to a 4kw aray. At present they will fit one for customers who they supply electricity to for a one off fee of £50 which if your exporting more than 50% of your total generation it will pay for its self quickly. It may be true that you can have a seperate electricity supplier than that of a FIT payee but most FIT application forms  are strongly worded to make you believe that they enrgy supplier will only accept your FIT application if you are all ready a customer.With the proceedure all ready having a built in delay period from when your commissioned to when your FIT will start it's well worth getting these issues ( who's suppling and who's paying)  sorted prior to the commission date. Most supliers will communicate via E,Mail and will send you attatched their version of the FIT application form. A final piont that has also come to light is that in the S/W and possibly other areas, if you are seeking to install a PV system greater than 3.5kw  but below 4kw you still need to notify the supply infrastructure owner , Western Power in my case. If you dont and a fault in the system occours after your commision, your then responsable to pay to upgrade the street infrastructure back to the sub station, A letter of intent and completion of any paperwork will then relieve you of the costly responsability should the street power supply fail.   

report abuse

Woody

WoodyComment left on: 25 May 2011 at 6:05 pm

Has anyone thought of manufacturing pv panels with a brown/black /grey edge.  On a nice stone house - the silver edges just stand out too much on the roof.  Do they need to be so shiny or will they dull in time.  Still - in a different colour would be better.  Many people aren't interested in panels because of how they look on their houses.  More thought on this side could increase take-up.

report abuse

Woody

WoodyComment left on: 25 May 2011 at 5:58 pm

To Jeff B re contact with supplier.  That is unfair.  I contacted my supplier nPower on 23.3.11 when I had my system commissioned.  Their form never came.  Their email failed - so when I eventually got the form and returned it - I had been producing for a month.  I am still waiting to hear from them.  They have a backlog?

report abuse

Jeff B

Jeff BComment left on: 24 May 2011 at 9:23 am

Cathy - am I correct in thinking that I am not obliged to use my current electricity supplier as my FIT provider?

report abuse

Cathy Debenham

Cathy DebenhamComment left on: 24 May 2011 at 9:20 am

Hi Jeff- you're right. You don't have to use your current electricity supplier as your feed-in tariff supplier. All the big six are statutorily obliged to be FIT suppliers, and other smaller companies, like Good Energy and Ecotricity, choose to also offer the service.

report abuse

Cathy Debenham

Cathy DebenhamComment left on: 24 May 2011 at 8:12 am

Thank you for this very useful reminder, Jeff. It's worth ringing your chosen FIT supplier the day the system is commissioned. And well worth checking our guide to choosing one, before it's even installed.

report abuse

Jeff B

Jeff BComment left on: 23 May 2011 at 10:05 pm

A word of warning to would-be PV solar customers. I had a nasty surprise the other day when I called my electricity supplier to ask them to be my FIT provider. It seems that most FIT providers now have an "Eligibility Date" from when the FIT payments start. In my case this was the day that you first make contact with them regarding FIT payments i.e. NOT the date the panels were installed! From the time I had the panels installed to the date of "first contact" my panels have generated over 600 kWh but I will not be paid for these units!! The moral is get in touch with your proposed FIT provider very, very soon after your panels are installed and working!

report abuse

Leave a comment

You must log in to make a comment. If you haven't already registered, please sign up as a company or an individual, then come back and have your say.