Solarplicity

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Solarplicity
Formerly
LoCO2
Private
IndustryElectricity and gas supply
Founded2009 (as LoCO2)
FounderDr Bob Middleton (Founder LoCO2)
HeadquartersWare, Hertfordshire
Area served
United Kingdom
Key people
David Elbourne (CEO)
Websitewww.solarplicity.com

Solarplicity is a renewable energy company based in Hertfordshire, England. Its troubled energy supply division collapsed on 13 August 2019, affecting around 7,500 domestic and 500 business customers. The company continues to trade as Community Energy Scheme, installing solar panels on council and housing association properties.

History[edit]

LoCO2 Energy was established in 2009 as the retail arm of a vertically integrated group of energy companies known as TradeLink Solutions.[1]

Solarplicity began in 2012 as a provider of solar panel systems.[2][3][4] It acquired and rebranded LoCO2 Energy in spring 2017.[5]

A initiative to install solar panels on Stoke-on-Trent council homes, marketed as Community Energy Scheme, commenced in 2018.[6][7]

Energy tariffs[edit]

Solarplicity offered several green energy plans to domestic accounts including fixed, variable and smart meter tariffs.[8]

Businesses were offered a gas and renewable electricity tariff with no standing charge.[9]

Fuel mix[edit]

Solarplicity’s overall fuel mix for 2017/2018 saw 100% of electricity generated from renewables.[10]

Customer service[edit]

Solarplicity was ranked lowest for customer service of 30 energy suppliers in a 2019 survey published by consumer group Which?, citing issues with its online and phone customer service, and poor handling of complaints.[11]

Citizens Advice quarterly assessment of energy suppliers has consistently rated Solarplicity poorly.[12][13][14] For the period January–March 2019 it was placed 32nd out of 39 suppliers with an overall score of 2.3/5, a slight improvement on the previous quarter.[15][16]

Consumer issues website Resolver indicated "a spike in complaints about Solarplicity failing to issue refunds in December [2018]".[17]

Review website Trustpilot lists the company as "poor". Recurring comments involve billing issues and overdue refunds.[18]

The Energy Ombudsman stated there were 3,324 complaints against Solarplicity in 2019, including 583 in July.[19]

Regulator action[edit]

Industry regulator Ofgem can issue enforcement action against energy companies it believes may breach its licence conditions. A provisional order signals an investigation of an apparent breach. A final order can be issued when Ofgem is satisfied a breach has occurred. An operator may face fines or have its licence to operate revoked.[20]

First Provisional Order[edit]

The Energy Ombudsman investigated over 1,000 complaints against the supplier in 2018.[21] Highlighting customer service and account switching issues, on 22 February 2019 Ofgem issued a provisional order banning Solarplicity from taking on new customers for three months and also prohibiting increases of vulnerable customers' direct debit payments.[22][23] Citizens Advice supported this move.[24]

Channel 4 programme Supershoppers broadcast in May claimed Solarplicity staff were "very sneaky", repeatedly stating they were unable accept new customers because the company was "changing tariffs", not due to a banning order. In only one of five calls made by Supershoppers did staff admit they were "taking time to rectify issues with current customers." In a statement for the show, the energy supplier claimed it had "made significant improvements to its customer service performance."[25]

Three months after issuing the provisional order, Ofgem determined Solarplicity had taken sufficient steps to address its concerns and allowed the order to lapse. Amongst agreed undertakings, the company would not acquire new domestic customers until 5 August 2019, except for a limited number under its community energy scheme.[26]

Utility Week, an industry journal, revealed that despite Ofgem's relaxation, complaints to the Energy Ombudsman had actually surged, with over 2,000 complaints during January–May 2019 and 478 in April alone. The ombudsman indicated there were problems with timely remediation including goodwill payments and refunds. Solarplicity suggested customers were bypassing its complaints process and contacting the ombudsman first. The company repeated claims of service improvements.[27]

Second Provisional Order[edit]

In May 2019, Ofgem demanded Solarplicity settle outstanding feed-in tariff (FIT) payments due to several energy generators and meet ongoing obligations. The company had failed to pay some generators on time despite receiving FIT levelisation payments itself.[28]

Solarplicity missed further payments in June. Following fresh complaints Ofgem was satisfied that the company had breached its rules and confirmed the order in August.[29][30]

Transfer to Toto Energy and collapse of Solarplicity Supply[edit]

In late July 2019, 43,000 of Solarplicity's 60,000 domestic accounts were acquired by Toto Energy.[31][32] Transfer of affected customers occurred early August. The agreement included Toto supplying all Community Energy Scheme customers. Solarplicity continued to serve business customers and the remaining domestic accounts.[33]

Shortly after the Toto deal, Solarplicity Supply ceased trading.[34][35]

The week prior to the collapse, some customers, including those transferred to Toto Energy, reported erroneous direct debit payments taken from their accounts.[36]

Solarplicity denies speculation in The Guardian that it sold off its "valuable" accounts to Toto, leaving Ofgem to cover debts. The newspaper believes Solarplicity owed over £3.5m in outstanding credit balances when it ceased trading.[37]

Ofgem appointed EDF Energy as the supplier of last resort (SoLR) for impacted residential customers, ensuring there was no disruption to energy supply.[38]

Financial reporting and winding up petitions[edit]

Delayed accounts[edit]

Accounts to 31 March 2018 for Solarplicity Energy Limited and Solarplicity Supply Limited should have been filed at Companies House by 31 December 2018. As of August 2019 they are seven months overdue.[39][40]

Solarplicity Group was renamed Peerglow Group in 2019 and performs head office activities; submission of its 2018 accounts is also overdue.[41] Apollo Investment Corp. considers its equity stake in this group "worthless".[42]

For the year ended 31 March 2017, Solarplicity Energy Limited's profit was £26,177 on a turnover of £13.1m; this compares to a profit for the previous year of £81,582 on a turnover of £12.1m.[43]

Winding up petitions and administrations[edit]

2018[edit]

Solarplicity Ltd, the energy generation arm, was put into liquidation on 14 May 2018 following a winding up petition from HM Revenue & Customs. Documents filed at Companies House indicate a total of £3.96 million in outstanding and overdue taxes owed by this entity.[44]

2019[edit]

Four companies were placed in administration on 23 July 2019.[45][46][47][48] Winding-up petitions against several Solarplicity businesses had also been instigated by HM Revenue & Customs.[49][50][51][52] Solarplicity stated the petitions were settled, dismissed by Companies Court or adjourned.[53][54]

A HM Revenue & Customs petition to wind up Solarplicity Energy Limited is scheduled for 21 August 2019.[55] A hearing to wind up Solarplicity Supply Limited petitioned by smart meter infrastructure company Smart DCC was planned for 28 August 2019.[56]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Renewable Energy Services and Consultancy Tradelink Solutions". Tradelinksolutions.com. Retrieved 16 February 2014.
  2. ^ Elbourne, David (17 November 2015). "Solar Energy sees a New Dawn". LinkedIn. Retrieved 24 April 2019.
  3. ^ "Solarplicity divests 133 MW of solar assets". Your Renewable News. 30 January 2018. Retrieved 24 April 2019.
  4. ^ "Solar PV Systems for Your Business". Solarplicity. Retrieved 10 March 2019.
  5. ^ "SOLARPLICITY ENERGY LIMITED". Companies House. UK Government. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
  6. ^ "Customers slam money-saving energy scheme as a 'farce' – after waiting TWO MONTHS for work". Stoke on Trent Live. Local World. Retrieved 24 May 2019.
  7. ^ "Terms and Conditions – Community Energy Scheme". Community Energy Scheme. Archived from the original on 23 July 2019. Retrieved 23 July 2019.
  8. ^ "Energy Plans". Solarplicity. Retrieved 10 March 2019.
  9. ^ "Business Energy and Solar Offerings from Solarplicity". Solarplicity. Retrieved 10 March 2019.
  10. ^ http://solarplicity.com/about/our-fuel-mix/
  11. ^ https://www.which.co.uk/news/2019/01/best-and-worst-energy-companies-for-2019/
  12. ^ https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/about-us/how-citizens-advice-works/media/press-releases/smaller-and-newer-energy-suppliers-bottom-of-the-pile-for-customer-service-once-again/
  13. ^ "OneSelect Comes Last in Citizens Advice Energy Star Rating". Citizens Advice. 8 December 2018. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  14. ^ "Increasing Numbers of Small and Newer Energy Suppliers Delivering Poor Customer Service". Citizens Advice. 15 March 2019. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  15. ^ "Too many energy firms struggling to deliver good customer service, says Citizens Advice". Citizens Advice. 25 June 2019. Retrieved 25 June 2019.
  16. ^ "Compare domestic energy suppliers' customer service". Citizens Advice. 24 June 2019. Retrieved 24 June 2019.
  17. ^ "Gripes about small energy firms soar". This is Money. 22 January 2019. Retrieved 10 August 2019.
  18. ^ "Solarplicity Reviews". Trustpilot. 9 August 2019.
  19. ^ "Statement on the collapse of Solarplicity Supply Ltd". Ombudsman Services. 13 August 2019. Retrieved 13 August 2019.
  20. ^ "rovisional orders and final orders". Ofgem. Ofgem. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
  21. ^ "Energy supplier Solarplicity banned from taking on new customers". The Mirror. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  22. ^ "Ofgem orders Solarplicity to make significant customer service improvements". Ofgem. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  23. ^ "Solarplicity Supply Ltd: Provisional Order". Ofgem. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  24. ^ "Solarplicity provisional order "necessary to protect existing customers", says Citizens Advice". Citizens Advice. 22 February 2019. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  25. ^ "Supershoppers, Series 6, Episode 6" (Television programme). Channel 4. 20 May 2019. Retrieved 20 May 2019.
  26. ^ "Decision of the Gas and Electricity Markets Authority ("the Authority") not to confirm a Provisional Order" (PDF). Ofgem. Ofgem. 22 May 2019. Retrieved 23 May 2019.
  27. ^ Adam John (24 May 2019). "Ombudsman receives 2,000 Solarplicity complaints". Utility Weeks. Retrieved 24 May 2019.
  28. ^ "Solarplicity Supply Ltd: provisional order (failure to make FIT payments)". Ofgem. 10 May 2019. Retrieved 12 May 2019.
  29. ^ "Confirmed Provisional Order - Solarplicity Supply Limited - 6 August 2019" (PDF). Ofgem. 9 August 2019. Retrieved 9 August 2019.
  30. ^ "Confirmed Provisional Order - Solarplicity Supply Limited - 6 August 2019" (PDF). Ofgem. 9 August 2019. Retrieved 9 August 2019.
  31. ^ "Toto Energy acquires 43,000 Solarplicity customers". New Power. New Power. 29 July 2019. Retrieved 30 July 2019.
  32. ^ Lunn, Emma (31 July 2019). "Toto Energy acquires the bulk of Solarplicity's customers". Your Money. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  33. ^ "Welcome to TOTO!". TOTO Energy. Retrieved 29 July 2019.
  34. ^ "Solarplicity becomes 13th energy supplier to collapse since 2018". The Guardian. The Guardian. 13 August 2019. Retrieved 13 August 2019.
  35. ^ "Solarplicity Supply ceases to trade – and this is what it means for thousands of Stoke-on-Trent customers". StokeonTrentLive. The Sentinel. 13 August 2019. Retrieved 13 August 2019.
  36. ^ "Solarplicity update [Aug 09, 2019]". Ombudsman Services. 9 August 2019. Retrieved 9 August 2019.
  37. ^ "Small energy companies risk going bust in financial shock". The Guardian. 18 August 2019. Retrieved 18 August 2019.
  38. ^ "Solarplicity customers: Your questions on new supplier EDF". Ofgem. Ofgem. 16 August 2019. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  39. ^ "Solarplicity Energy Ltd". Companies House. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  40. ^ "Solarplicity Supply Limited". Companies House. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  41. ^ "Peerglow Group Limited". Companies House. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  42. ^ "Form 10Q - Apollo Investment Corporation" (PDF). Apollo Investment Corporation. 6 August 2019. p. 18. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  43. ^ https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/06895776/filing-history/MzIxMDAyMzIxM2FkaXF6a2N4/document?format=pdf&download=0
  44. ^ https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/09749982/filing-history
  45. ^ "Notice timeline for SPTMY LIMITED (07887237) - Appointment of Administrators". The Gazette. TSO. 30 July 2019. Retrieved 30 July 2019.
  46. ^ "Notice timeline for SUBSCRIPTION ENERGY LIMITED (11330170) - Appointment of Administrators". The Gazette. TSO. 30 July 2019. Retrieved 30 July 2019.
  47. ^ "Notice timeline for SOLARPLICITY UTILITY SERVICES LIMITED (09415844) - Appointment of Administrators". The Gazette. TSO. 30 July 2019. Retrieved 30 July 2019.
  48. ^ "Notice timeline for GAMMA RAY AM LIMITED (09789415) - Appointment of Administrators". The Gazette. TSO. 30 July 2019. Retrieved 31 July 2019.
  49. ^ "Notice timeline for GAMMA RAY AM LIMITED (09789415)". The Gazette. The London Gazette. 12 July 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  50. ^ "Notice timeline for SOLARPLICITY UTILITY SERVICES LIMITED (09415844)". The Gazette. The London Gazette. 12 July 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  51. ^ "Notice timeline for SPTMY LIMITED (07887237)". The Gazette. The London Gazette. 12 July 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  52. ^ "Companies Court Winding Up List". Justice.gov.uk. 23 July 2019. Archived from the original on 23 July 2019. Retrieved 23 July 2019.
  53. ^ "Troubled energy supplier Solarplicity faces a battle with the taxman over allegedly unpaid bills". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 24 June 2019.
  54. ^ John, Adam (25 July 2019). "Several winding up petitions filed against Solarplicity". Utility Week. Retrieved 26 July 2019.
  55. ^ "Notice timeline for SOLARPLICITY ENERGY LIMITED (06895776) - Petitions to Wind Up (Companies)". The Gazette. TSO. 31 July 2019. Retrieved 31 July 2019.
  56. ^ "Notice timeline for SOLARPLICITY SUPPLY LIMITED - Petitions to Wind Up (Companies)". The Gazette. TSO. 15 August 2019. Retrieved 16 August 2019.