Energy Saving Group folds leaving customers out of pocket

Customers in Lincolnshire have been left concerned over whether they will ever receive a solar array or manage to get their money back after the Energy Saving Group (ESG) ceased trading amidst 40 complaints from disgruntled customers to Trading Standards.

Customers across Lincolnshire reported giving ESG £500 to secure a solar array. However, after months of waiting the panels were never fitted.

Worcestershire trading standards said that ESG had advised some of its customers that it had ceased trading on December 9, as a result of the dramatic reduction in the feed-in tariff rate available for solar PV installations.

Steven Dickson, a former Director of ESG, said in a statement: “Energy Saving Group ceased to trade in December 2011 and I am working with the liquidators to recover a large amount of debt owed to Energy Saving Group. It was regrettable that the decision to close Energy Saving Group had to be made. The liquidators will do everything they possibly can to recover this debt in order to repay Energy Saving Group's creditors, which include customers who are owed refunds."

George Egan-Wyer, 72, a retired joiner, waited over 4 months for solar panels to be installed on his home in Dunholme. Mr Egan-Wyer told this is Lincolnshire: "The panels I paid ESG for were never fitted. There's no guarantee of getting anything back through the courts and it would cost me to make a claim so I am resigned to never seeing my £500 again. Steven Dickson says he is trying to give us our money back but I doubt that will happen – seeing is believing."

Michael Perry, 72, owner of Perry's Aquatic Centre, in Dunholme, told this Lincolnshire that he finally had solar PV fitted, but not by ESG. "I paid £500 to ESG and in December I was trying to get my money back because nothing was happening," he said.

"Then this other company rings up saying they had bought the contract from ESG – I think they're the same lot in all but name. We got what we wanted in the end but it was ESG I paid, not some other outfit.”

Perry concluded: "I think solar panels are a great idea but the next time someone comes knocking on the door asking for £500 they won't get it."

The folding of the company comes after the Redditch-based renewable company were named in a BBC Watchdog programme aired in September, as examples of bad practice within the industry. Anne Wells, another ESG customer who paid a £500 deposit for solar panels that never arrived, said: “I was given no cause to think that there were going to be any problems at all with it and that it was just a straightforward process... in 3 months time the solar panels would be fitted and I would be getting my free electricity during the day.” Over six months later ESG wrote a letter to Anne stating that the criteria had changed and she was no longer eligible for free solar.

The ESG claimed to be responsible for more than 5000 solar installations, with 350 systems installed every week. Visitors to ESG’s website are greeted with the following urgent message: “The company has ceased trading and all customers must wait to hear from the assigned liquidators.”