Sunday, 28 August 2011

Making a Feed in Tariff Application.



You may think you’ve done all the hard work when you’ve researched the best company for your solar panel system and had it installed. Think again…

You now face the daunting challenge of obtaining FiT (Feed in Tariff) accreditation. The good news is that you can apply to ANY energy supplier for accreditation, they will, for the following 25 years pay you quarterly for the energy you’ve produced at the retail priced indexed rate dictated by the government backed scheme. Its a standard industry wide scheme so there are no good or bad company offers. Once you’ve been approved, you’re free to change supplier as often as you like, ensuring you’re getting the best possible tariff for your energy needs.

We are currently NPower customers, despite the fact that they come bottom of customer satisfaction surveys they seemed to offer the best deal for us at the time. I would strongly recommend taking a fixed price, long term tariff if offered, it may appear initially unattractive, but within 6 months it appears a great deal compared to the cheaper options once they’ve been ‘price hiked’. In 2005 we signed up to a British Gas 5 year fixed price deal for all of our gas and electricity and saved hundreds of pounds.

We attempted 3 times to ring the NPower FiT team to ensure that the online application form which was dated 12 months earlier was still the correct item without success. They were always in a ‘team meeting’, ‘in training’ or just plain ‘unavailable’. Undeterred we downloaded the 6 page “Feed in Tariff Application Form” and started to worry…

NPower state they will return any incomplete or incorrectly entered forms which puts a certain amount of pressure on you from the start. It’s a steep learning curve as they want you to enter details relating to acronyms and subjects you’ve never heard of!

  1. MCS certification number. Your installer should have provided you with this.
  2. Total installed capacity (KW) or declared net capacity (KW). We chose the first option and entered our systems 2.66KWh.
  3. Meter make, model, and serial number. Our meter was covered in names and numbers which caused us problems.
  4. Did we want an ‘Export meter’ or did we want to “opt in” to the guaranteed export price of 3.1p a unit? At this stage we just wanted to make the quickest application possible, there were no indications of the cost, potential remuneration or advantages of taking the export meter route. We wimped out and took the 3.1 pence based on 50% of our output being used by ourselves, it’s indexed linked and we get a chance to reconsider each year.
  5. Bank account details. This surprised me as I’d previously been told they sent you a cheque each quarter.

After a very exciting couple of hours we sent off our application on the 17th June 2011. As requested we enclosed the following, where relevant.


  • Copy of your MSC or ROO-FIT certificate
  • Proof of ownership of the System (such as a copy of an invoice for installation, or commissioning certificate). If you have provided information about more than one System, please ensure that you provide proof of ownership for each System.
  • Proof of relationship between owner and person claiming FITs. If you are not the owner of the generating system to which this application refers, please provide evidence of the owner (see Section 1) and the relationship between you and the owner stated (such as a copy of contractual agreement)
  • Proof of Identity (such as a copy of driving licence, birth certificate etc) (you only need to provide this if you are not an npower customer)
  • Proof of address (such as a copy of two utility bills) (you only need to provide this if you are not an npower customer)

Foolishly, I assumed that we would receive approval (or at least acknowledgment of our application) within a few weeks. I tried once again to call the FiT team and eventually after 5 weeks resorted to an email enquiry as to the current status of our application. In fairness they replied almost immediately confirming that they had our application and the process normally took 6 weeks. RESULT….

Almost 8 weeks to the day we received an email telling us our application had been approved by “Ofgem” and once we’d printed off the attached form and signed, confirming our acceptance of the terms and conditions we could return it to them completing the application.  Why? Surely they could reduce the paperwork and administration by making the initial application form contain a phrase. “Do you accept the terms and conditions” if your application is approved?… People complain about public sector bureaucracy, the private sector can be just as inefficient sometimes.


Is this normal for the process? I'd be interested in your experience.

Hopefully, we will be receiving our first cheque sometime in the Autumn. Watch this space….




Icarus


20 comments:

  1. I'm feeling a bit suspicious about the npower approach to the FiT scheme, they're doing a very good impression of people trying their hardest not to pay out. This maybe an unfair evaluation but it's consistent with their behaviour.

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  2. @SomeBeans
    As I've recently signed up with NPower, I'm hoping your suspicions are unjustified.
    My understanding is that all of the 21 "Registered FiT Licensed Suppliers" including the big 6 have to renew their commitment to the scheme on an annual basis. April 1st 2012 will be the next occasion this occurs.
    It's difficult to see what the energy companies are getting from the FiT scheme other than more paperwork. Hopefully, OFGEM will make it a mandatory part of their business to carry on. I’m hoping that I won't have to go through the process again to register with another company on an annual basis...

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  3. i too am bemused by n power no one ansewers phones or replies to emails. they didnt inform when i signed up just said they will contact me of when meter reads where due .now fear ive lost all payment for summers generation

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  4. @Anonymous
    I know what you mean!!!
    I eventually emailed them at: forumresponse@npower.com asking what was happening to my application. It's worth doing the same as they replied within 24 hours confirming they had the application.
    I think you will get payment for any KW's generated since the application has been made. Did you put the meter reading on your application? They state on the approval form that all payments will be based on that initial reading.
    Good luck. Let me know how you get on.

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  5. I received an autoresponse from microgeneration@npower.com which amongst other things says on meter readings:

    3. When is my next FiT meter reading due?
    You can provide us with meter reading between:
    1st - 25th March
    1st - 25th June
    1st - 25th September
    1st - 25th December

    I got a letter requesting the September reading date marked 26th August received 8th September.

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  6. start meter read yes .but i have read t&cs of fits contract states miss a reading in any quarter no payment for that quarter. fits resumes after 2 more consecutive readings. fits payments not back dateable aarrrggghhhh

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  7. @Anonymous
    I've taken a look at all of the paperwork (including the terms & conditions) that I've received from NPower. I can find no reference to penalties imposed due to late readings. Unlike “Some Beans" I haven't yet received any requests for meter readings or details of when they are carried out. It would appear that I'm unlikely to receive any payments in 2011 based on his timetable from NPower. I'm not desperate for the cash, but its disappointing.

    Has anyone else had any experience with reduced/non payments from their FiT provider?

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  8. @Icarus
    After all the comments I'd had regarding problems with meter readings and the fact that I'd not received a request for a reading in Sept 2011 I emailed NPower the following.

    Reference: FIT Meter Reading

    "Could someone let me know the timetable for when you request quarterly meter readings"?

    "I’ve seen on the internet that you normally request details between the following dates".

    1st - 25th March
    1st - 25th June
    1st - 25th September
    1st - 25th December

    "Does this mean that my system installed in June 2011 will not receive an initial reading until Dec 2011"?

    "Any help appreciated".

    Approximately 60 minutes later I received a phone call from NPower letting me know that if I emailed my current meter reading they would arrange payment. Whilst it would have been better to have received a request from them for the meter details earlier in September, their attitude doesn't suggest to me that they are trying to escape payments or impose penalties for not supplying details on time.

    Irs early days, but I despite the bad press they've received I'm reasonably happy.

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  9. @Anonymous they have been in touch and will honour reading and from start to current thanks for responses phew!

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  10. @Anonymous
    Well done. I'm delighted for you. It just goes to show that persistence pays off.
    Good luck with the system. I'd love to hear how it's doing and the output your achieving.

    Best regards.

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  11. I've stumbled across this web site today & been on this web site for hours reading all the useful comments....thank you.

    I have had my 12 sanyo 235w pv panels put on my newly slated roof (needed doing for the last
    15yrs) yesterday & am expecting the electrician this Sunday to install all the electrics to hook up my 2.82 kwp system!!! The roofer will be back next week to complete the tiling but his priority, understandably is putting panels up this week.

    I haven't slept in days worrying about the whole thing. I'm still waiting for a call from Energy Saving Trust technical team to advise me about tree shading, as I have 2 c17m high London plane trees 18m in front of my south facing house & panels. The installation company, who I did research & are very reputable, have assessed these trees would have a 20% impact on all the projections but that would still give me a total year one return of £967 & a payback time of 9.5yrs.

    I intend to submit my application to EDF via email this coming Monday in an attempt to beat the dead line drop in FIT. I am very worried that although my application will beat the deadline in terms of arriving at EDF but fear if no one looks at it to check for any errors or missing details until after 12th Dec 2011, I may by default only qualify for the 21p FIT.
    Has anyone else submitted to EDF via email & have any useful advice?
    thanks Lizzie.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, if you want real trouble do go to EDF

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  12. @Anonymous
    Hi Lizzie.
    Thank you for the very kind comments about the site, it makes it all worth while.

    My understanding is that your FiT application is valid from the date your supplier receives the form. All of the information on the form relates to a specific date (your output meter reading, etc.)

    I'm not sure that they will accept an email application, but if I was you I'd send your application recorded delivery and follow up the application, with a request for confirmation that they are processing it from the date they received it.

    Based on my experience, don't expect any reply from them confirming your FiT acceptance in the near future. Mine took 3 months and there must be lots more last minute applications at this time.

    Good luck.

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  13. @Anonymous
    Hi. Just to update you.... Sunday saw the electricians successfully wire up the inverter & panels just as darkness descended.

    Our MCS certificate & proof of purchase arrived yesterday & I scanned in the completed 7 page application form with all the ID requirements off to EDF (max email they accept is 30MB). I called them 1st thing this morning (took ages to get through due to the high call demands) but did speak to the EDF Green Team. They, after I quoted my email address & the time I sent the email, tracked & acknowledged receipt of my application & he did go through all 12 pages to verify their legibility.

    They cannot 'validate' the application as it has to go to another team but he checked that the 2 most common errors (no MCS cert. & omission of meter reading were present). The best time to call them is 8am !

    I will now await the outcome.
    Liz

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  14. my understanding is that npower only pay you on 4 dates a year. If you miss giving them a meter reading that's your problem. YOU WILL STILL BE PAID but it will be delayed by a quarter.
    Yes I've found them VERY hard to talk to and they seem as keen as possible to pay anything...strange they can't read the solar reading when they come to collect the reading for the money I owe them!
    I'm due to submit my reading NOW by email...but can't find the 'special' email address anywhere.

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    Replies
    1. I'm guessing you found it by now, but for the benefit of others, nPower's 'special' email address is microgeneration@npower.com

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  15. @Anonymous

    You're 100% correct regarding 4 reading/payment dates each year. I also agree that if FiT customers are dim enough not to send in their readings NPower will pay them the following quarter.

    I have first hand experience of their
    in dealing with complaints. They are a shambles and patently couldn't care less about their customers.

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  16. I had three quotes for solar panels and finally plumped for British Gas. Not based on the price quote for the job but because they have a network of engineers if things go wrong, and unlike some installers will still be around to honour the 25 year payments.
    My first two quarterly FIT payments took about a month to come through and the third one six weeks after giving them the meter reading.
    I then received an email asking me for a reading for my fourth payment which I gave them by return. Seven days later I received the cheque,so it looks like they are getting their act together compared to some of the experiences mentioned by others on this site.
    As to when to give meter readings my original contract had a number to ring which I did 13 weeks after the installation date and quarterly from that date.

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  17. I have had similar experiences with npower FIT Reading Provision. Where do you provide readings other than e-mails, which are answered sometime later only by an e-mail saying your reading is due within a couple of days, implying you had forgotten? Why cannot npower provide a site to provide readings?

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    Replies
    1. Hi. I totally agree. I can't believe that a huge company like npower are so disorganised!
      I spelt out my feeling in this post. http://www.solarpowerdiary.co.uk/2012/09/on-line-fit-meter-readings.html?m=1
      Good luck for the next 20 odd years!

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