A new Consumer Focus report – entitled ‘Keeping FiT’ – highlights the high level of satisfaction among consumers who have taken up the feed-in tariff. However, the report also demonstrates difficulties with the registration and payment process for the tariff as well as the increasing amount of untoward sales techniques being employed by a minority of solar professionals working in the UK.

The Keeping FiT report shows that the vast majority (90 percent) of consumers are satisfied with their solar panel array, the sales approach and cost of the system. Two-thirds of consumers indicated that they would be ‘very-likely’ to encourage friends and family to sign up to the feed-in tariff scheme after completion of their install. The report pointed toward the importance of word-of-mouth referrals for the solar industry with a fifth of people questioned indicating that they chose their solar PV installer based on a personal recommendation.    

However, while the main response to the FiT scheme was positive, consumers did identify some concerns with the system, with a quarter of consumers saying they were dissatisfied with the process for registering or receiving payments through the scheme.

Also indicated during the report were 38 percent of consumers who were not given information on how to optimise their system by their installer. Almost two-thirds of those fitting panels in the UK did not even mention energy efficiency or discuss energy usage with their customers.

The Consumer Focus report worryingly indicates that a small minority of consumers are experiencing poor sales practice from the industry including, being pressurised by an offer of a discount or limited availability, providing misleading information and changing conditions or price.

In light of the Fast-Track Review, Consumer Focus has called on the Government to apply changes to the tariff on the basis of contract date, not registration date. Evidence presented in the report suggests that consumers are finding it difficult to register for the feed-in tariff scheme which Consumer Focus say will prevent consumers who signed their contracts before the review from receiving the returns they expected.

The watchdog is also urging the Government to learn lessons from the feed-in tariff scheme and apply them to the development of other plans to help people cut their energy use, such as the Green Deal and a domestic Renewable Heat Incentive.