September 26th, 2011

BBC Watchdog Investigates Solar PV Panels Scams

As the cost of electricity continues to rise, by 11% on last year, and the government’s feed-in tariff scheme generates increasing amounts of popularity and interest, solar PV panels are becoming a popular energy resource for people that previously believed they could not afford them.

3,000 people a month are currently signing up to the scheme because of the substantial savings they could stand to make. If you go the ‘rent-a-roof’ route, allowing a company to buy up your roof space for solar PV panels, you could save around £3,000 overall. Meanwhile, if you buy your solar PV panels outright, you could stand to save up to £28,000 from your investment.

This may sound great, but as BBC’s Watchdog uncovered last week, there are issues with various schemes which deal with solar PV panels. The company under scrutiny was the Energy Saving Group and their director Steve Dickson.

When it comes to solar PV panels schemes, it is possible to be too trusting. Government support makes it easier for many untoward and less-than-scrupulous solar PV panels schemes seem trustworthy. The boom in the solar PV panels industry has allowed all sorts of middlemen to go into business, making a buck out of mediating between solar PV panels installers and the government schemes and energy companies. While everything else in these solar PV schemes is likely to be legitimate, these middlemen are not being properly regulated.

After a grilling by the fearsome Anne Robinson, Dickson’s Energy Saving Group (ESG) was shown to be an example of this kind of solar PV panels middleman. The ESG has arranged and installed thousands of solar PV panels, but many of their customers have been left hanging after paying their fees. The accusation is that these unregulated middlemen are pocketing fees and leaving their customers without solar PV panels.

Energy Saving Group has supposedly ‘cancelled’ thousands of solar PV panels installations due to financial issues and problems with volumes and logistics. Yet many investors are still waiting to see their refunds, or their solar PV panels. 3.8% of ESG’s customers are expected to be subject to these ‘delays’ and over 700 customers have been affected.

The issues with these middlemen are something of a flaw in what is otherwise an enviable and effective government scheme, and they have led the government to consider legislating against middlemen who handle solar PV panels.

Whilst these middlemen are generally unnecessary, they can be useful. If you are considering approaching such a company to arrange a solar PV panels installation, ensure that the group you use are accredited by the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) and the Renewable Energy Association (REA) to guarantee quality and trustworthiness.

Getting in touch with us here at Watt & Sun cuts out the middleman. We install solar panels, on budget, on time and to a market-leading standard. To hear more about our involvement with building a more sustainable future, or to learn more about installing solar PV panels at your home or business, give us a call on 02920 020 158 or drop us an email at