Image: Ofgem.

Ofgem is in talks with suppliers to “ensure they understand their Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) obligations”, with export tariffs required to be available to all customers with eligible installs.

When approached by Solar Power Portal, a spokesperson said the regulator is “in contact with the electricity suppliers to ensure that they understand their SEG obligations”.

“At a minimum, a SEG licensee must offer one SEG tariff that is available to all SEG-eligible installations, regardless of whether the generator is an import customer or not.”

This comes as several of the tariffs launched in the two weeks since the SEG came into effect on 1 January 2020 are only available to customers who import their energy from the supplier they export to, such as tariffs operated by Octopus, SSE and Shell.

“A SEG licensee can offer SEG tariffs that are bundled with other products (such as import) but a bundled offer must be in addition to a SEG tariff that is available to all SEG-eligible installations,” the spokesperson continued.

This is also pertinent with Good Energy confirming last week that whilst its existing tariffs – SmartGen and its PPAs – are compliant for installations of 20kW and above, its export tariff for installations under 20kW is “not in operation yet”.

“We expect all SEG licensees to comply with their obligations under the SEG,” the regulator’s spokesperson confirmed.

The SEG is the replacement to the feed-in tariff, which closed to new applications on 31 March 2019. It allows suppliers to set their own export rates, with the caveat that it must be above zero, with tariffs currently ranging from 5.6p/kWh to 0.5p/kWh.


Comment: Alice Grundy, junior reporter, Solar Power Portal

The SEG has been plagued by tension from all sides since it was dreamed up somewhere in the depths of BEIS’ office. Fears over low rates and exploited loopholes, as well as a nine month policy gap between it and the feed-in tariff, left some feeling rather jaded about it before it even launched.

Ofgem’s statement shows that this tension has not wholly dissipated, even with the rates of four of the tarifffs coming in around or above the previous export tariff.

Some suppliers haven't stated whether or not their SEG customers must also be import customers, and the vast majority of energy suppliers are offering their tariffs to any eligible install.

It may be a minor detail of the SEG requirements, and one which can easily be ironed out with some fine tuning, but the warning is there to those that may be, intentionally or not, looking for loopholes in the legislation.