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Fiddling the feed-in tariff: prosecutions will follow...

Posted by John Martin on 8 February 2012 at 9:34 am

It has become apparent that a number of companies have committed fraud by submitting feed-in tariff (FIT) applications (or getting the consumer to do so) without actually having installed the equipment.

This has clearly been driven by the change of FIT rates announced and the eligibility date being brought forward to 11 December 2011 instead of the expected date of April 2012.

However, this does not excuse the behaviour even though companies may argue that they were protecting their customers from what they feel is an unreasonable change to the scheme.

In fact the decision is being challenged in the High Court

Unfortunately, this is a serious offence and customers complicit in fraudulent applications also stand to be prosecuted.

The MCS database operated by Gemserv shows trends in download activity which indicate fraudulent notifications. DECC, REAL, Gemserv and the Certification Bodies are looking at the situation closely and it is likely that where fraud is identified that prosecutions will follow as well as potential suspension/removal from the MCS approved installer register and that of the Certification Body.

It is unfortunate that the Government seemed to give little thought to their hasty and ill-managed decision and if the Court case is successful it may end up costing them more in compensation claims than it would to have continued on until April with the 43.3p tariff.

The constant change in approach to renewables has hindered uptake for the past 10 years or more and for a Government allegedly committed to energy efficiency and meeting its 2020 targets it has a strange way of going about it. The industry needs a consistent approach to supporting the uptake of renewable technologies instead of the constant changes we have seen in the past. Even now the domestic RHI cannot be sold to customers as it has not yet been confirmed, so installers are reluctant to make promises for fear of later being sanctioned for mis-selling .

I would suggest anyone who has been involved in a fraudulent FIT application come clean to your Certification body or as a customer to OFGEM or your FIT supplier to whom you applied. Better that, than getting caught as part of the investigations which it would seem are now inevitable.

And don't be tempted to fiddle the dates in an attempt to beat the new 3 March 2012 deadline. It's not worth it.

Photo: Oakley Originals

About the author: John Martin is proprietor of QMSA and managing director of Benchmark Certification.

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

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1 comments - read them below or add one

Rudge Energy

Rudge EnergyComment left on: 8 February 2012 at 6:05 pm

As installers we were all warned investigations and prosecutions of both installers and customers would follow if we purchased MCS certificates for use after the 12th December date. Its not really rocket science for OFGEM/ Gemserve to work out the offenders!

I anticipate that depending on the outcome of this current legal shennanigans, will also depend on whether the investigations proceed. If the 43p rate remains till 3rd March (as is popularly hoped), then these people would be getting 43p anyway, so why prosecute on a technicality?... If the after 12th Dec rate remains at 21p, prosecutions will almost definately follow! 

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