Home Solar Loan Ripoff: UK Ombudsman Rules Potential Returns Were Misrepresented

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

h/t JoNova – The UK financial ombudsman has ruled that a bank must rework a credit agreement for a home solar installation which was sold based on misleading information.

Mr L told us he’d been ripped off by a company selling solar panels.

He explained he was told the panels would be “self-funding”. He’d used his savings to cover some of the costs of having the panels installed, and had signed up to a credit agreement to pay for the rest.

Mr L said he’d soon realised the panels weren’t saving him any money. He’d already complained to the credit provider, who didn’t agree that the benefits had been misrepresented. Mr L didn’t agree, and asked us to look into what had happened.

putting things right

Mr L told us that the salesperson promised his loan repayments would be totally covered by the benefits of his solar panel system – through “feed- in tariff” payments and the savings made on his electricity bills. He explained the salesperson said the solar panels were “better than free”. But in reality, there was a shortfall between what he was paying out and what he was getting back.

We looked at the paperwork Mr L had been given explaining the benefits he’d receive. The documentation wasn’t complete – and in our view, the information wasn’t clear. This meant Mr L would have been relying on what the installer told him, rather than on the paperwork, to understand what he was signing up to.

We then looked at what Mr L was actually getting back. We found that – instead of the situation being self-funding – he was nearly £1,000 a year out of pocket.

All in all, we decided there was clear evidence of misrepresentation on the installer’s part. And we didn’t think Mr L would have agreed to have the panels installed if he’d realised that, rather than being “self-funding”, the panels would actually leave him worse off.

We carefully considered how to put things right in Mr L’s individual circumstances.

In this case, it seemed Mr L was happy to have the solar panels, but was unhappy that they weren’t self-funding. Following our involvement, the credit provider offered to reduce the loan slightly – and to allow Mr L to keep the panels.

However, we didn’t think this was enough. We told the credit provider to rework the loan – so Mr L wouldn’t pay any more for the panels than the potential savings they’d make over the long term. …

Read more: April 2018 Ombudsman News Issue 144 (page 18)

This ruling potentially opens the way for redress for anyone in Britain who feels they were pressured into signing up for a solar installation loan which is returning less than the loan repayments. The ruling may even have implications for people in the USA, Australia or other countries with similar legal systems – courts sometimes take note of comparable rulings which occurred in foreign cases.

My suggestion – if you are in financial difficulties because of a loan for home solar products which have not delivered the promised returns, especially if you live in the UK, talk to your ombudsman or talk to a lawyer. Make sure you show them a copy of this ruling.

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May 8, 2018 8:13 pm

This has been happening since the ‘solar on your rooftop free’ scams began in the United States. Wait until the subsidies dry up and the victims find out they are still liable for the initial installation costs. Worst yet, wait until they find out the lifespan of their panels is less than their loan payoff time and the fact that the upkeep isn’t included and can be substantial. California has legislation for approval, or not, that all new build residential housing includes solar panels. How’s that for shoving it down your throat? One gullible neighbor of mine went for solar panels on the promise it would reduce his electricity bills only to find out that the bills plus panel monthyl payments exceeded his previous expense!

Reply to  markl
May 8, 2018 9:32 pm

What? Solar panels don’t last forever?

Reply to  kenji
May 8, 2018 10:44 pm

No, though the debt does.

Reply to  kenji
May 9, 2018 9:00 am

Only in the Landfill!

Reply to  markl
May 9, 2018 12:51 pm

Two comments: –
1 If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. [Applies to anything, not just green-cons!].
2 The con artists know there ‘Really is one born every minute!’ – try not to let it be you.
There are many varieties of con artists, fraudsters, and other snake-oil salesfolk, so do keep your wits about you.
Auto – pondering a conservatory replacements . . . .

May 8, 2018 8:22 pm

Outside Guelph Ontario (Canada) there is a windmill on a farm. It hasn’t turned in many years. The farmer doesn’t take it down. He lets it stand as a warning to others. People can see that it obviously isn’t working. Too bad that doesn’t work for solar panels.

May 8, 2018 8:28 pm

Good to hear that at least one of these ‘renewables’ financial scammers has been nailed. Only a million or two to go…unless governments wake up and shut down the subsidies that enable these scams.

Joel O’Bryan
May 8, 2018 8:32 pm

Selling solar PV in the UK??? really?
Are people really that ignorant?
(rhetorical, I know they are. The Climate Hustle proves it everyday)

Leo Smith
Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
May 8, 2018 10:01 pm

An elderly man, now deceased, was persuaded to put two solar water heating panels on his roof at a cost of IIRC £5000.
He was told that they would halve his house heating bills – which were around £3000 p.a.
I read the small print. They promised to halve his domestic hot water heating bills. Probably only £120 p.a.
His savings would be not the £1500 a year, but just £60. An ROI of around 1.2%
Despite my warnings, he went ahead.
He would point gaily at the dials showing how the whole system was working and heating water.
Until the oil consumption showed no improvement.
Then he had to pay £200 to get the panels cleaned when the construction site next door allowed cement dust to blow into them.
That wiped out any profit the panels might have shown for the next three years.

richard verney
Reply to  Leo Smith
May 9, 2018 2:00 am

Sounds to me that the cost of the system was far too high.
In Spain, a system (not including installation) as per the picture below is advertised for €795. Seecomment image/v1/fill/w_173,h_218,al_c,q_80,usm_0.66_1.00_0.01/7b2c60_f201135b691fa35f06d6a2792c37c3ad.webp
Perhaps a better system is around €1,450 to €2,000. See:
i have seen very basic systems, Chinese imports, for around €450 to €500 (not including installation), and one wonders whether anything more sophisticated is truly required.
Certainly hot water systems make more economic sense than does a PV system when one is dealing with a high latitude cloudy country. I would envisage that a hot water system would pay back in 5 to 15 years, depending on specification and quality, but ignoring financing costs, and unlike PV systems, they have a long life expectancy. A neighbour of mine has a system that was installed in around 1988 still working fine. It provides most of the domestic hot water all year round, although if there is a prolonged cloudy spell in the winter months, the back up electric coil is required.

Reply to  Leo Smith
May 9, 2018 9:35 am

£5000 ??? seriously?

Ian Magness
Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
May 8, 2018 10:54 pm

They are only that stupid due to the fact that the government promoted and subsidised an industry that, in the UK at least, quickly became home to an army of failed used car and double glazing salesmen – all happy to spout government fairy-tale figures and virtue-signalling.
I twice looked into all this for my house. In both instances I lined up several quotes and, when I had got them, demanded the figures indicating when payback would be completed for the up-front investment (and that’s without financing costs). In every single instance the snake-oil solar companies either just disappeared or made excuses as to why the calculation was impossible or not relevant.
My estimates? A minimum of ten years by which time rising maintenance / replacement costs would defer payback even further, possibly indefinitely.
With my varied professional background, it was easy for me to cut through the hype – not so the general public. This will go down as another shameful episode in global warming- related history as, sadly, thousands in the UK alone were duped, and duped with the tacit approval of the main political parties and the MSM.

Reply to  Ian Magness
May 9, 2018 1:19 am

it’ll also go down as yet another failure of the UK government, along with double glazing and home insulation, when government interference in the free market empowered scam merchants to jump on the subsidy gravy train.
Something similar happens with our charitable organisations. When the much heralded ‘bonfire of the quango’s’ ‘occurred’ much of the money was diverted to charities which would otherwise have gone under, and they are used as the new lobbying medium for governments. And so, Oxfam prostitution was established as a fun way for charity executives to spunk taxpayers money, literally!

Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
May 9, 2018 2:06 am

Two things I’ve noticed living in the UK over the last few years are 1. Large solar ‘farms’ sprinting up increasingly in rural heritage areas, that in the UK’s cloudy climate and latitude will be generating next to nothing useful (besides subsidies for the owners). 2. A big increase in solar panels appearing on homes in poor areas – usually ones that look in serious need of maintainance. This is confusing until you realise people on the lowest incomes are likely the most desperate, and vulnerable to snake oil salesmen promising ‘free energy’ in return for expensive loans.

Reply to  JJB MKI
May 9, 2018 6:09 am

“rural heritage areas”—meaning areas the enviros did not until now have a way to destroy and benefit themselves?

Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
May 9, 2018 6:40 am

I think the W.C. Fields approach – never give a sucker an even break – applies. I don’t think people deserve legal protection from their own stupidity.

Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
May 9, 2018 2:43 pm

These people have no common sense. Even a child knows that there is more sun in France. So if the exact same technology is installed in the same way, and not viable by itself in France, why would it be viable north of France?
Same in France, people could look at Spain. Not viable in Spain.

J Mac
May 8, 2018 8:40 pm

Focusing a little sunshine on the dark side of unrealistic renewable energy claims is a good thing!
It’s not clear to me that the shyster salesperson actually worked for the credit company that was punished.
The misrepresenting sales-crook should have been punished as well.

Reply to  J Mac
May 9, 2018 1:27 am

J Mac
The conventional route in the UK is for an independent sales distributor to sell the panels and installation, whilst working with a credit company to provide the finance.
The independent company makes money on the sales of the panels and installation and gets a kickback from the finance company for every deal they sign up.
You can’t buy a new car in the UK cheaper with cash than you can by taking a finance deal. The trick is, take the finance deal, get all the discounts, then pay off the finance immediately, thereby incurring no interest. Assuming, of course, there are no early termination penalties.
All pretty standard stuff in the US I suspect.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  HotScot
May 9, 2018 6:32 am

The US is a bit different and I will use NJ as the example as I believe it’s typical.
Usually the installation company will finance the whole package with some upfront costs born by the consumer, crafted to be offset by various tax credits that are available. So, nominally you pay $5,000 – $10,000 out of a total system cost of $35,000 to $40,000 but state and federal credits ensure you pay zero. Typical installation size by the way might be 2,000 – 3,0000 kW or more as US homes, especially newer ones, are large compared to housing around the world. How, you ask, can the installation company make any money on this deal? Easy. When you have a solar PV system, there are two components for which you get paid. One is the power produced. Tariffs don’t allow you to get more money back than the power you consume so the net is your best outcome is zero cost for power. That’s the part you keep as the consumer. The second component is the RET credit. That’s the renewable energy target. The value of the RET credit can be 3-4 times the value of the electricity, and there’s no limit on that credit. That’s the part the installation company keeps.

Phil Rae
May 8, 2018 9:23 pm

Perhaps I’m being a bit cynical but, based on the ombudsman’s comments, it seems to me that Mr L liked the virtue signalling and boasting rights for his solar panels but didn’t want to pay for either with his own money. It seems he was happy when the panels didn’t cost him anything! The question in my mind is how much additional subsidy was being paid on Mr L’s behalf by hapless consumers due to the inflated feed-in tariffs? Just sayin’……

Allan MacRae
Reply to  Phil Rae
May 8, 2018 9:38 pm

Phil RAe wrote:
“The question in my mind is how much additional subsidy was being paid on Mr L’s behalf by hapless consumers due to the inflated feed-in tariffs?”
The answer to your question Phil is “Beaucoup”!

Reply to  Eric Worrall
May 9, 2018 6:11 am

Britain doesn’t have a welfare program for home heating costs? The US does—federal and through power companies.

Reply to  Eric Worrall
May 9, 2018 1:02 pm

The UK does have two very limited programs to help with heating costs:
One is a cold-weather extra payment for those on – roughly – the most common benefits; from: –
You may get a Cold Weather Payment if you’re getting certain benefits.
This guide is also available in Welsh (Cymraeg).
You’ll get a payment if the average temperature in your area is recorded as, or forecast to be, zero degrees celsius or below for 7 consecutive days.
You’ll get £25 for each 7 day period of very cold weather between 1 November and 31 March.
The 2017 to 2018 Cold Weather Payment scheme has now ended. Next year’s scheme is due to start on 1 November 2018. You’ll be able to check if your area is due a payment in November 2018.”
So the recent April frosts didn’t trigger any payment!
The other is the Winter Fuel Payment:
If you were born on or before 5 August 1953 you could get between £100 and £300 to help you pay your heating bills. This is known as a ‘Winter Fuel Payment’.”
More at – https://www.gov.uk/winter-fuel-payment
There are also some subsidies for insulation.

May 8, 2018 9:35 pm

The salesperson and the company should have been done for fraud and misrepresentation.
Why PV solar panels are next to useless:
The workforce are away 5 days a week. The electricity they use on those days are generally outside of sunshine hours. In the evening it is all cooking and lighting plus heating or air cond. This means that solar panels are effectively useless for those 5 days.
On the weekend it is marginally better. Solar for a cooked lunch, cups of tea, heating during the day. Same thing at night as during the week.
Solars panels are uneconomic and just as you think you are about to get ahead they all need to be replaced.
Solar panels are only good for heating water and only on a sunny day. The solar panel should be connected to a dedicated element in the cylinder.
The PV solar panel may heat ones own water but lack the capacity/grunt/oomph to go to the boundary along the street and into a neighbours property to heat their water.
No one should be pain feed in tariffs from solar panels into the grid
Wind turbines in particular and solar panels to a large extent are useless and uneconomic

May 8, 2018 9:50 pm

comment image

Phillip Bratby
May 8, 2018 10:39 pm

I would say it is the same for all those farmers in the UK who were conned into installing wind turbines with promises of huge capacity factors (sometimes over 50%) when the reality is that they are lucky if their turbine achieves a capacity factor of 20%. I’ve heard of many farmers whose greatest regret is installing a wind turbine.

Reply to  Phillip Bratby
May 9, 2018 6:12 am

Greed does that.

Coeur de Lion
May 8, 2018 11:43 pm

Uk’s feed in tariff has fallen from 43p per kWh to c. 3.5. That’s Good Government. Considered buying in at £13,000. My son asked ‘what do you spend on electricity?’ ‘Oh about £500pa’. ‘That’s 26 years plus opportunity- you’ll be dead by then’.

Reply to  Coeur de Lion
May 9, 2018 1:35 am

Coeur de Lion
I believe there are a lot of early adopters who are reaping the benefits of the 43p per kWh as they have a long term agreement which, I also believe, is transferable when the house is sold.
Still plenty of people heating their house with your money. Not that I blame them as it’s undoubtedly the governments fault for, once again, getting their sticky fingers in the free market, a place from which they should be eternally banned.

Reply to  HotScot
May 9, 2018 6:23 am

I do blame people who think using my money to finance their lives is a great idea. It’s the user’s fault, not the sellers. I blame continued consumption for the Santa Claus government—greed on the part of the users of the government. Vote in “free money” for you from your neighbors and friends.

Reply to  Sheri
May 9, 2018 7:02 am

whilst I largely agree with you, it’s difficult to resist ‘free’ stuff when the government dangles it in front of people.
Nor do I think consumption is the problem. The young are accused of being gross consumers ruining the UK – but witness the latest idiotic idea of Willits (sp?) to give everyone under 25 £10,000 at the expense of pensioners because houses are so expensive! Why does the idiot think that won’t just fuel their consumerism!
So yes, Santa Claus government is the root cause, handing out subsidies like sweeties, often just to buy votes.
I note, meanwhile, Trump is challenging everything and anything that threatens America’s prosperity and security. By taking all these ‘unpopular’ (and good – Paris/N.Korea/Iran/EPA etc.) steps early in his tenure as POTUS he’s clearing the way for making really popular political decisions shortly before his tilt at re election. What I don’t see is him handing out free money, yet I’m prepared to bet he’ll be re elected with a handsome margin in a couple of years.
UK governments, on the other hand, faff about with decision making until all decisions, good and bad, have to be made shortly before an election. The current fiasco over the customs union with the EU should have been dealt with by the stroke of a pen, next! But it isn’t, it’s gobbling up time before the Brexit deadline when the UK will be cornered by the EU, once again.
So whilst I don’t like the idea of individuals using my money to heat their homes, I blame our pathetic, cowardly, conservative lite government (so lite, they are just an extension of socialism) and wish for the days of Thatcher again when she at least made decisions. They may have been right, they may have been wrong, but at least the decision was made and we could all move on.
Thatcher and Trump, both with more than their fair share of balls.

Reply to  HotScot
May 9, 2018 7:08 am

And my opinion is that everyone should have jumped aboard the scam and broken it much earlier, thus exposing the whole damn thing for what it is.

Reply to  HotScot
May 9, 2018 1:09 pm

In Northern Ireland, they did indeed “jump aboard the scam and broken it much earlier, thus exposing the whole damn thing for what it is.” [Well, almost a quote! ]
Renewable Heat Initiative – the Right-royal Dosh Diversion Scam.
See WUWT ad nauseum, and even the BBC!

May 8, 2018 11:58 pm

The consumer and the institution lending the consumer money both suffer financial losses. Meanwhile the salesman, the company installing the panels, the company selling the panels, and the manufacturer of the panels are free to continue without any financial penalty.

Reply to  TerryS
May 9, 2018 1:43 am

The company selling the panels undoubtedly went bust a long time ago. Another clever government trick to absolve themselves of blame.
Privatise a government initiative (which in itself I have no problem with) create a government certificate to demonstrate the sales company can install the panels competently then allow that certificate to be misrepresented as a demonstration of the stability of the company (Oh no sir, we’re not going anywhere, we’re backed by the government) with no scrutiny of the businesses financial stability.
Nor do I blame the panel manufacturers, they are only responding to market demand. A demand in this case, distorted by inevitably eroding government subsidies.
Guess who I blame?

May 9, 2018 12:07 am

Here in the UK we call them the green thieves.
Domestic solar PV installations were popular when the feed-in tariff was £0.43 per kWh. Yes, you read that correctly, and for elecricty generated, not what you export to the grid. A 4 kW installation like my father’s would cost about £13,000, and yield annually about £1,500 of FIT from 3,500 kWh generated (installer’s projection was actually correct) , and thus about 11 % ROI. The day that the FIT was halved, the price of the installations halved. Funny that. The theiving installers were simply pricing it for people looking for a decent tax-free ROI, i.e. middle class people with cash to spare. The grid electricty savings were a side-effect. The FIT has been cut again and again to £0.04, and guess what, the price of an installations has bottomed out at a level that looks more like parts+labour+reasonable profit. And the returns are now so poor that people don’t bother.

Reply to  sonofametman
May 9, 2018 1:49 am

I may have got one of my beliefs wrong in a post above yours. I understood there were many tied into long term agreements with the FIT at 43p per kWh.
I defer to your knowledge on the subject. But it does make me relish the thought of buying a house and being able to slash £10k off the price just because they have expensive solar panels I’ll be forced to remove and dispose of.

Reply to  HotScot
May 9, 2018 2:33 am

The contracts were for 20 years, so if you got your installation completed and signed off in time, you got the £0.43 rate for that 20 years. Ownership/entitlement is transferable. It was new installations after whatever date that got the reduced FIT for the duration of their contracts. So my dad’s house gets the silly rate until 2031. New installations will get one tenth of that, and it’s no longer really economic. One wrinkle was that you had to have it done by an ‘approved installer’ to get the FIT payments as there was a completion certificate and other paperwork. The whole thing was a government organised racket.

Reply to  HotScot
May 9, 2018 3:02 am

Thanks for the clarification.
I know the ‘approved installer’ bit was, as usual, a government con job as, whilst installers might be trained and capable of installing the panels (a couple of mates and I could do a good job TBH) the ‘approved installer’ award is brandished as evidence of financial stability.
This cunning government trick is uses everywhere and if a company goes bust leaving their customers in the lurch, the government shrugs its teflon shoulders and says “we only ensured they were capable of doing the physical installation competently, we’re not responsible for their business practices”.
The cowboys jump on the bandwagon, do one installation properly for inspectors to sign them off, and the following installations are sub standard.
Government approval schemes ought to come with a financial health warning writ large, in big red letters across it: “THIS GOVERNMENT APPROVED SCHEME GUARANTEES EXPOSURE TO UNSCRUPULOUS CON MEN WE WILL DO NOTHING ABOUT”.

Bloke down the pub
Reply to  sonofametman
May 9, 2018 3:42 am

The FIT is actually index linked to the price of electricity so those who got the £0.43 rate at installation should have seen that go up. There is also an export rate on top of that that pays you for what you put into the grid, either by being metered or by assuming 50% of your generation. This is all on top of any saving you make by reducing the amount of electricity you buy in from the grid. When I had my system put in, I was able to pay for it outright, one of the ‘middle class people with cash to spare’ that you refer to. As the interest being paid by banks on deposits at the time(and still) was at record lows, it was an easy decision to make.

Robin Hewitt
May 9, 2018 1:50 am

I’m in the UK. If that nice Mr Trump puts up anti-dumping trade barriers to prevent cheap Chinese solar panels entering the US market, they will have to go somewhere.
Regardless of feed in tariffs, there must be a price point where it becomes credible for me to buy a few surplus panels and put them on the roof.
I have a large bungalow on the south coast which would be just about perfect were it not for the seagulls.

Peta of Newark
May 9, 2018 1:51 am

Good intentions get hijacked and held to ransom.
The cronies throw their wealth around so prices rise and never come back down
Extra resource, from somewhere/anywhere, within the wider economy is needed/used
Eventually something runs out, something breaks, other people’s money runs out and the bubble bursts. (see the stream/flood of pubs, restaurants, shops and large national chains closing right now in the UK)
When the shops etc close, tax revenue falls so tax rates need to rise to keep the cronies in employment. Rising unemployment gets politicians voted out of office as we know. Nice positive feedback huh
Good example was/is the dot-com bubble. Government told us that everyone was gonna get rich selling tat & junk to everyone else. A few companies did make it work, notably ebay and the likes. Guess what.
They’re now going to add (starting at 3%) a tax to everything bought on ebay
Like Insurance Tax. Started at 2% barely 5 years ago – is 12% now.
And a lot of the time, failure to buy insurance is a criminal offence.
And what is the tax (import duty) on Chinese solar panels these days – yet the European producers (cronies) still went bankrupt. Dumber than a dumb thing, how do you do that?
Tax is still there though.
The thing is going to crash, there is no other possible result.
Last time it notably happened, Europe disappeared into 1,000 years of Dark Age
Ha! I’ve just, in my mind’s eye, envisioned raggedy people holding candles in front of solar panels to try make electricity. Monty Python must’ve had a bigger influence than I ever guessed

Peta of Newark
Reply to  Peta of Newark
May 9, 2018 2:14 am

At least the Romans invented plumbing – something good came out of it.
And the current crop of Europeans actually learned and taught us how to count properly, in Base Ten.
We’ve done out bit.
What I really came back for is to recount a tale, currently ongoing at a UK renewable energy forum that I look in on now and again.
A member suggested that the recent (hot & sunny) weather here in England would set new records for national PV production.
Another was rather more sanguine, suggesting that PV does not work well in hot weather, plus, the sun is not really that very high yet AND, it was a hazy sort heat. NOT crystal clear blue sky.
But, said member also had a self-installed solar thermal installation on his house in South London. He, like the others on the forum keep and compare meticulous records (Big Willyism of course, gets everywhere)
He said that his Best Ever Days of solar thermal were when the Icelandic volcano with the memorable ‘trips off the tongue’ name was erupting – nearly all aircraft from the big airports around London were grounded.
He said that the haze cleared, the sky was bluer than he’d ever remembered and solar hot water production was off the scale.
During a volcano eruption.
Over to the believers/advocates/appeasers & explainers of the GHGE – lets hear it.

Nigel S
May 9, 2018 3:00 am

This sounds like the next PFI (cue salivating ambulance chasers). We love our ‘compo’ here in UK. Soon all the annoying calls trying to sell me solar panels or a share in compensation for accidents I haven’t had will be replaced by even more annoying calls trying to sell me a share in compensation for solar panel loans I haven’t had. (disclosure, slight elaboration, I don’t usually answer calls from anyone I don’t know.)

Nigel S
May 9, 2018 3:04 am

PPI (payment protection insurance), sorry … (PFI is also a scandal but that’s another story)

Julian Flood
May 9, 2018 3:52 am

As we were on opposite political sides in West Suffolk I got to know our MP quite well — particularly as we managed successfully to oppose a wind turbine. He was at the time the Minister for Energy. At one meeting he bounced up to me full of enthusiasm.
“Solar, solar’s the thing! The price of solar panels is falling dramatically!”
“Yes, Minister. But you’ll need to store the energy.”
He looked nonplussed*.
“Yes, yes,” he said, his face poker blank. “We’ll have to store the energy.”
He was the Minister for Energy. His civil servants had obviously not told him that you either use it or lose it. Perhaps they too did not know.
The ignorance and wilful stupidity of our political class is boundless. This man has a first class degree from Oxford, but it was PPE so perhaps he can be excused.
There is a solution. Retrospective tax. The landowners, scammers and wide-boys who are exploiting those who need cheap power most — the old, the poor, the sick — should be made to pay. Tax the wind farms. Tax the forest-devouring Drax power station.
*A word I’ve always wanted to use. Thank you for the opportunity.

May 9, 2018 4:32 am

The entire solar PV scam is only viable because of taxpayer funded subsidies and the government forcing REAL electrical suppliers to purchase the overage from the PV using chumps at an astronomical rate.

May 9, 2018 5:09 am

“rework the loan – so Mr L wouldn’t pay any more for the panels than the potential savings they’d make over the long term”

Bad idea!
What they are doing is increasing the term length of the loan.
Which will reduce the amount loan principle paid each payment while increasing the total interest payment over time.
A) They may push the loan period to longer than solar panel productive life. Eventually resulting in payment without but little income.
B) Do they plan to lengthen this loan to longer than a person will live?
1) The court agrees that this is a fraudulent sale/loan?
* a) But the owner likes the panels?
2) Why did the court not fine and/or penalize the solar panel sales group?
* a) Then, a portion of the fine could reduce the loan principle to a point that the owner could afford payment; without lengthening his loan?
A) Instead it appears the court is not penalizing the solar sales group or setting constraint on the practice of solar loan scams.
B) Or is UK returning to their old sales practice where customers burned by sale misrepresentation are ridiculed?
caveat emptor!

Patrick MJD
Reply to  ATheoK
May 9, 2018 6:37 pm

“ATheoK May 9, 2018 at 5:09 am
“rework the loan – so Mr L wouldn’t pay any more for the panels than the potential savings they’d make over the long term”
Bad idea!
What they are doing is increasing the term length of the loan.
Which will reduce the amount loan principle paid each payment while increasing the total interest payment over time.”
Exactly! Barclays bank involved in a money making sc@m? Say it ain’t so!

May 9, 2018 5:49 am

Is it less than 1% of UK sales ?
BBC Radio 4 is just covering the issue now
(7 minute report)
For 2 years they have been covering a well known problem with a sales scam company called HELMS
The question is is this problem limited HELMs or does it include bona fide solar corps ?
Neither the Ombudsman nor the Times mention HELMS by name but the MO seems like theirs
\\ The ombudsman said that it had received about 2,000 complaints in the past year and that its investigations had found “evidence of pressure sales techniques, and misleading sales literature or representations by the salesperson”.//
the Ombudsman say 2,000 complaints but there have been 900K UK home installations
The BBC says Shirebrook had 25,000 of such loans , so I think we can expect the claimants to rise
Interesting the Times released its story on a Bank Holiday Monday

CD in Wisconsin
May 9, 2018 6:53 am

Monthly Sunshine Hours in U.K. (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_of_the_United_Kingdom (Met Office table))
54.2 (January)
74.3 (February)
107.6 (March)
155.2 (April)
190.6 (May)
182.6 (June)
193.5 (July)
182.5 (August)
137.2 (September)
103.1 (October)
64.5 (November)
47.3 (December)
Total: 1492.7
I don’t know how anybody in the U.K. could spend good money on a solar energy systems without looking at the sunshine hours data from the Met Office above. I would have a hard time concluding that it would be worth it. And because of the U.K.’s northern latitude, the sun will be fairly low and weak in the sky throughout much of the year…especially in the northern part of the country. Germany has a lot of cloudy days too as I understand it.
I suppose when someone is naive and gullible enough to listen to a solar salesman, anything can happen.

CD in Wisconsin
Reply to  CD in Wisconsin
May 9, 2018 6:58 am

Sunshine hours are actually for England, not the whole U.K.

Reply to  CD in Wisconsin
May 9, 2018 8:52 am

Yes, the UK is not Arizona, and it varies substantially from north-west to south-east, and varies locally a lot too depending on the topography.
Eastbourne on the East Sussex coast might be OK at 1888 sunshine hours per annum, but Fort William (at the foot of Ben Nevis) is a cloudy place at only 1188.

Steve Jones
May 9, 2018 9:07 am

As a Brit I am confident the government will find a way of compensating these greedy, gullible, idiots at the taxpayers’ expense.

May 9, 2018 9:10 am

The weather in the UK is just fine for solar, just like Denmark, Germany, Netherlands and even Sweden. The problem here is the loan. Never take out a loan to buy a PV system. I bought mine in 2012 using my own saving and since we have net metering here the power company pays me 2 euros a month for the excess I feed into the grid. Return on investment will be in May 2020 and so far I have not had any expenses. I clean them once every 2 years or so.
These companies pray on the weak and ill informed, usually older people. If you take out a loan all the financial benefits you have go into paying the interest on the loan.
I hope these companies will be dragged into court and forced to pay back every penny they stole, it’s a disgrace.

Reply to  Sven
May 10, 2018 2:22 am

In the UK a self installed setup cannot be used by the Electricity companies to buy the surplus as it is not classed as renewable, so you have to either give it away for free or store it for use later which increases the system cost. Its one of the ways they force you to use an approved installer. If you are lucky enough to have an old meter that runs backwards you are ok as long as you make sure it shows net consumption each reading, but the newer ones only recognise consumption not generation.

May 9, 2018 9:11 am

Logically, if the solar panels paid for themselves, then the power utility itself (or any other investor) would gladly pay for the installations and pocket the margin.
Likewise, when someone tries to convince me to buy into a surefire investment, my first question is “if the deal is so good, why don’t you put all your own money into it instead of asking for my money?”. The answer, or non-answer, reveals the truth.

Reply to  JDN
May 9, 2018 9:32 am

Exactly JDN, that is what these scammers do. They want most the profit your solar system makes and you, the consumer, are taking the risk. The consumer may still get his investment back, if he/she is lucky, but it will take 15-25 years before that happens. And if the inverter needs to be replaced, tough luck. Consumers take the financial risk, scammers take the profit.

May 9, 2018 10:59 am

If you sup with the Government, best use a long spoon.
I fell out with my daughter when they installed their solar panels. I asked why they expected me as a pensioner on an income of about one tenth of theirs, to subsidise their electricity bills. I have never dared ask how the economics have turned out!! Now a non subject in the household. Mind you I think they got in before the crunch came; so perhaps they are the ones laughing. ….: Still love the bones of her.

Derek Colman
May 9, 2018 4:42 pm

I don’t know Mr. L’s circumstances, but the average annual electricity bill in the UK for a 5 bedroom house is £850. If he is £1,000 out of pocket, he really is being ripped off big time, or he lives in a palace. Solar panels are a rip off in the UK anyway. One guy got interested after his son in Australia installed a 1k/W set up and inquired about it, only to find it would cost 7 times as much in the UK. Maybe that’s due to the EU imposing tariffs on panels imported from outside to protect German manufacturers, but I don’t know for sure. This is why Brits want to come out, because the EU is in fact a trade protection bloc.

lyn roberts
May 9, 2018 9:27 pm

We are in Queensland, Australia.
About 6 years ago our power bill arrived $900.00, for a quarter, I nearly freaked, that’s the point where I got interested in what solar would cost us.
Husband has heart failure and needs air-conditioning in summer and humidity, and warmth in cold wet and winter temps, advised by specialists Dr’s to get air-con installed if did not already have one.
Quoted $7500.00, divided by $900 = 8.3+ quarters, that’s only a two and a bit of quarterly bills.
Made sense to me, 20 panels and 5kw inverter installed, next bill $123.00, that in itself was a minor amount compared to what it had been, since then queensland power priced have doubled, last bill low $300.00, still not happy paying that much but its a long way from $900.00 doubling, so has worked for us with 24 x 7 reverse air con’s running.
All appliances run during day mostly, rather than after dark as would happen if going to work for 8 hours a day or more, that is a different story completely.
Amazed to be told by friend of family that had solar panels that they only ran their pool filters when they were home, I convinced them to put pool filters on timer system so it only ran during the day, they were good enough to tell me it made a difference to their power bill.

Reply to  lyn roberts
May 10, 2018 2:57 pm

Good advise Lyn. Here in Netherlands you currently get the same amount for a kWh you put in the grid as you take out so it does not make a difference. This is guaranteed by our government until the year 2023. After that we will probably only get the bare electricity price so it will be wise to do the vacuuming, washing etc. during daytime. In this climate, winters with hardly any sun, it is not worth investing in battery storage.

John B
May 10, 2018 6:43 am

No sympathy. Mr L complains about being ripped-off by the company, but quite happy to rip-off other British consumers funding this scam by subsidising the feed-in tariffs via additional charges on their energy bills.

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