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Feed-in tariff eligibility dates: make sure you get your application in on time

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 5 April 2012 at 9:01 am

Q: The Guardian recently reported that 30,735 homeowners and businesses who installed solar panels after a 12 December cut-off date and before 3 March will now be eligible for the previous, higher feed-in tariff (Fit) of 43p per kWh of energy generated.

I hoped and expected that the Government would lose this case and had solar panels installed on 25 February. The MCS Installer Certificate was issued on 27 February and I received it on 29 February. I submitted an application to my energy supplier (EDF Energy) but have been told by them that, as they did not receive my application by 2 March, I am only entitled to the lower rate of 21p.

Surely this cannot be right? The panels were installed seven days before 3 March. Clearly, as I had the certificate on 29 February, I could have used a guaranteed special delivery service or even hand-delivered the application to ensure that they received it before 3 March. The difference in the tariffs over 25 years is likely to be in the region of £15,000. What, if anything can be done?

A: I'm sorry to say that, while this seems horribly unfair, it is how the rules work. The key is what's called the eligibility date, which is "the later of the commissioning date or the application date". The application date is when all the paperwork is received by your feed-in tariff supplier.

I am very surprised that your installer did not tell you this, given that your installation was so close to the cut off date. As you say, you then could have used guaranteed delivery, or taken it round yourself.

I think that your installer should have made it clear that you needed to get the paperwork in before the deadline. However, I don't know if they can be held legally liable. They are members of the REAL Assurance Scheme, so it might be worth complaining to them. Also to NICEIC which is the body that accredited your installer for the MCS. Do let me know how you get on. 

Photo by Elliot Brown

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