Which? survey shows feed-in tariff delay affects solar panel owners

More than a third (36%) of Which? members who get paid for the electricity they generate from solar panels told us they have had a problem getting their feed-in tariff (FIT) paid, an exclusive Which? survey has revealed.

Energy companies ask you to pay bills quickly but they can take up to 90 days to pay you, leaving customers waiting months for hundreds of pounds.

82% of those who said they’d had a problem said payment was delayed. One in five said the delay was over three months longer than they expected.

Our full guide to the feed-in tariff reveals everything you need to know, from what it is to how much you can earn from the feed-in tariff.

Feed-in tariff payment problems
Which? carried out an online survey of 1,700 Which? members who have solar panels and get feed-in tariffs in November 2012 after receiving member complaints about feed-in tariffs being paid late.

Eon was the worst offender from our survey with 72% of its solar feed-in tariff customers reporting a problem with payments. SSE came second worst with 46%.

Visit our feed-in tariff payment problems page to see the full table detailing maximum feed-in tariff payment times and the survey results for each supplier.

Eon apologises
Eon told us it recognised it had encountered problems moving customers to a new automated system and apologised to those who did not receive excellent service. It said that delayed payments were caused by surges in demand for feed-in tariff services when tariff rates changed. Eon told us it believes the service has recently improved considerably.

SSE told us it is always looking to improve and had set itself a target to make all payments within 28 days in response to customer feedback.

According to energy regulator Ofgem, feed-in tariff suppliers are expected to pay out quarterly, unless their contracts state otherwise. But neither Eon’s nor SSE’s feed-in tariff contracts provide for a deadline for feed-in tariff payments.

Payment times vary by 60 days between other companies. EDF’s feed-in tariff terms say a maximum of 90 days from the end of the meter reading month but British Gas’ terms and conditions state a 30 working days maximum from when it receives the meter reading.

The view from Which?
We believe that all companies should pay customers within the time agreed and that Eon and SSE should state in their contracts the deadline for payment. We will share our findings with the Department of energy and climate change (Decc) and Ofgem.

If you have a problem with your feed-in tariff licensee, contact it directly. If you have not reached an agreement eight weeks after your complaint, contact the Energy Ombudsman. Find out more about how to complain to your energy supplier in our online guide.

Tags: solar industry news, e-lec.org