Energy bill / solar panel / issue help please ? — Scope | Disability forum
If we become concerned about you or anyone else while using one of our services, we will act in line with our safeguarding policy and procedures. This may involve sharing this information with relevant authorities to ensure we comply with our policies and legal obligations.

Find out how to let us know if you're concerned about another member's safety.
Please read our updated community house rules and community guidelines.

Energy bill / solar panel / issue help please ?

Options
ByTheSea
ByTheSea Community member Posts: 39 Connected
edited October 2022 in Cost of living
Evening all

Is anyone here electricity bill / solar panels aware and can help me on this before I go despair please ? 

I have even tried CAB but they said it is out of their remit and have to pass it onto their energy team, they should respond 3 working days (tomorrow) but I have just had another email from Ovo and they are worrying me sick basically.

It's a bit complicated, I have been with Ovo for 5 years, they have just put my DD up from £36 to £360, which I think is extreme but they are steadfast about it and have actually put a charge on my bill currently of £1,400 for the 12 March - 11 October, I can't understand at all how this can be possible, I am obviously aware they are going up but not this much ?

To add complications to this, I have solar panels, I have an old type meter, not faulty, however it runs backwards with the solar panels, (an engineer stated it's because it's an old analogue meter and we have had a very sunny year, therefore it has run back considerably).

However because the meter was running backwards, they appear to have called me a liar and stated the have reason to believe they have the wrong meter readings for the property and asked me to send a photo of the meter showing reading and serial number.

I did this a week ago, I also had a photo of the meter reading with serial number which I took back on 31 March and it does prove it is running backwards.

They have just sent me a bill, still stating I owe the £1,400.

We are incredibly low users, even before the solar panels were put in, it's just me and adult son in 2 bed house and we rarely have heating on. It seems like they're estimating the bill themselves or something ?
I've told them this is an extreme increase and can't be correct, told them I can't afford £360, this will put me in extreme poverty.

Anyone wise on this please ?
Have a good evening all

                  
Tagged:

Comments

  • Geoark
    Geoark Community member Posts: 1,463 Disability Gamechanger
    Options
    Hi @ByTheSea this is a well know issue with some analogue meters. Unfortunately the electricity supplier should have been informed when you noticed this. The company does have the right to recoup the money it has lost.

    Have Ovo mentioned about changing your meter? This should be done as soon as possible.

    The charge will be an estimate on what they believe they would have got had they been informed. So if they have not supplied the information ask how the have come to this sum.

    You mentioned that you were told by an engineer that the meter would run backwards because of the type of meter you had. Where was this engineer from? ie fitting the solar panels, from the gas company or somewhere else?

    The debt may stop you from being able to swap suppliers for more information see https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/energy/energy-supply/get-a-better-energy-deal/switching-energy-supplier-if-you-owe-money/#:~:text=You might be able to,less than 28 days ago

    hope the consultation goes well for you.

    As an individual I stood alone.
    As a member of a group I did things.
    As part of a community I helped to create change!

  • ByTheSea
    ByTheSea Community member Posts: 39 Connected
    Options
    @Geoark thankyou so much for your help, the engineer who told me was from the company who does the annual gas service on behalf of council when I questioned it, this is very recent as nobody had noticed it going backwards, it's only with the lengthy summer that it was noticed, I genuinely have always been bad at giving regular readings and everything else (looking to get an Autism assessment and my son has a diagnosis)  
    They haven't mentioned changing the meter whatsoever, only sent me a bill, I am also very concerned about having this done as I have heard horror stories about a lot of the smart meters not working, giving wrong readings and cutting people off, I have really bad anxiety without adding to it with these issues. I haven't got issues with paying what I owe, if it is correct but I do worry about smart meters. I have also already questioned the amount and they haven't responded how they have got it. 
          
  • Cartini
    Cartini Community member Posts: 1,108 Pioneering
    Options
    Hi,
    I had solar installed in 2015 and, as you have mentioned, my meter was running backwards.  I informed my supplier (I can`t remember which one, I swap annually (or did before the cap was increased)) who installed a digital meter. 
    I won`t have a smart meter because there are conflicting opinions "out there"; some say they now work with solar, but some say there are still issues with incorrect FIT Tariff payments being made.
    As for the whopping increase in your bill, have they clarified whether that`s a permanent payment or just until your account is cleared?  If it`s a permanent payment, Ofgem have advised people to report an increase of more than 100% (I think it`s 100%) to Ofgem.  Unfortunately I can`t find the article that covers this, but it might be worth contacting Ofgem to clarify where you stand:
    Andy
  • ByTheSea
    ByTheSea Community member Posts: 39 Connected
    Options
    Hi Andy
    Thankyou so much, This is what I would prefer certainly, a digital meter, however I am not sure where I now stand legally as from what I can gather on googling, they are now legally entitled to fit smart meters if a meter is faulty or end of life.

    They are not being transparent whatsoever, it seems to be a permanent increase, they are stating that I used that much energy and need to raise it that much, I can't see how they can just put a figure on it, as of yet CAB haven't got back to me.

    Thankyou for the Ofgem info, I will look into that        
  • ByTheSea
    ByTheSea Community member Posts: 39 Connected
    Options
    I have had another email from Ovo, still no CAB, I have pasted Ovo's response below, which is still not transparent whatsoever about how they have come to the sum or even stated they have to change the meter, just advising it, very vague, I've emailed them straight back and asked them to explain how they reached the sum and stated that I don't want a smart meter but am happy to have a standard meter installed.

      ** The issue seems to be that as you have already highlighted the meter is clocking backwards as a result of the solar panels at the property. This is common amongst older meter types and we normally recommend getting the meter exchanged to prevent this from happening in the future.

    I would recommend getting in touch to arrange a meter exchange - I have done an account review and can see that you are eligible for a free upgrade to a smart meter which would prevent this issue from occurring in future due to this being a new meter and also allow you to monitor and track both your usage and cost going forwards

    Sincere apologies for any inconvenience this has caused **

  • Cartini
    Cartini Community member Posts: 1,108 Pioneering
    Options
    Ovo`s response is as much use as a chocolate fireguard.
    Have you tried online chat with CAB?  I used them when I was considering a tribunal, they put me in touch with an organisation in Plymouth to help me.
    I can`t remember if I used Firefox or Microsoft Edge, but one or the other should work (assuming you`re on a Windows machine):
    Andy

  • OverlyAnxious
    OverlyAnxious Community member Posts: 2,616 Disability Gamechanger
    Options
    Energy call centres are very restricted by the type of help they can offer.  Just given basic training with a few possible 'advisory' suggestions.  I doubt CAB will be much help with this situation either.

    I don't think non-smart meters are still being manufactured, so you may be stuck with a Smart meter now unless they've still got some old-stock leftover.  
  • ByTheSea
    ByTheSea Community member Posts: 39 Connected
    Options
    Ok received response from CAB, which was semi-useful but also very incorrect as they state gas and completely ignore the fact that it's the solar panels causing it to run backwards, I will try asking them to put the DD on hold and put a complaint in

    ** We understand from your email that your gas meter is potentially faulty resulting in possible inaccurate bills being received by your energy supplier. 

    Your Rights and Obligations:

    You have the Right to be treated fairly by your energy supplier.

    When a complaint is raised the supplier is obligated to investigate, if the complaint is the fault of the supplier they should do everything they can to put this right. 

    All charges should be clear and transparent. 

    You are responsible for the costs of the energy you use.


    Meter faults are rare but they do occur. If there is a suspicion that your meter may be faulty then the usual process is that you should contact your supplier to get their instructions on how to carry out a load test or  blackout test. 

     

    This test means that the supplier can gather much needed data that could indicate if there is a fault with the meter. If the data does indicate there is a fault then you may be offered a MAT (Meter Accuracy Test). 

     

    MATs are carried out by a company called SGS and are the only company approved by Ofgem to carry out the tests. The results of the test are legally binding. A MAT does cost approximately £100 to £150 and the cost of the test is payable by you. The report generated from this is given to you and if a fault is discovered it will be possible to work out how much you have over paid for the energy, this would then be re-credited to you. If a Fault is discovered on the meter, the cost of the MAT is reimbursed to you.


    The supplier only has the obligation to read the consumers meter once every two years. They should make at least 1 attempt per year to obtain a meter reading from the consumer via a durable medium i.e, letter, telephone, online app or email. Other than this, it is classed as the consumers responsibility to provide meter reading so they are able to be billed accurately for the energy they have consumed.

     

    Failure to provide meter readings means the supplier has no option but to base the consumers bills on estimated usage. Estimated readings can be based on things such as previous usage or seasonal factors i.e. winter months. If a consumer is unable to read the meter themselves due to a disability or illness, they are able to register on the suppliers Priority Services Register (PSR). All suppliers have a PSR as it allows them to keep note of vulnerable customers and gives the consumer opportunity to either book meter readings or meter reading to come to the address automatically once every quarter.


    Ultimately, you would need to demonstrate that the gas meter is at fault to get the bills revised accordingly and inline with your actual usage. Once the meter is repaired, you will be able to take manual meter readings over the course of a month and submit these to the supplier who could then potentially revise any estimated bills on the account. You could also get a report from an independent engineer at your own expense. Either way, you should also contact the supplier and raise this issue as a complaint. 


    As the supplier has increased the direct debit on the energy account, you could request for this to be placed on hold pending investigation. If there is any debit on the account, under Standard Licensing Condition 27, the supplier has an obligation to find a suitable payment scheme for the supplier. 


    You can make a complaint verbally over the telephone but we would advise following this in writing. 

    You can find a helpful Template letter on the link below. 

    You should keep a copy of the letter, set a deadline for the suppliers response and send this recorded delivery. 

    Please ask the supplier for a complaints reference number and a copy of their complaints procedure. 

    Once the complaint has been raised if it is not resolved within 8 weeks or it reaches a position of deadlock, you will be able to take your complaint to the Energy Ombudsman. **

  • poppy123456
    poppy123456 Community member Posts: 53,978 Disability Gamechanger
    Options
    I have smart meters for both gas and electric and pay by DD, never had any issues with either of them. You already mentioned you're not good at sending in meter readings so maybe the smart meters are the way forward for you.
    I would appreciate it if members wouldn't tag me please. I have all notifcations turned off and wouldn't want a member thinking i'm being rude by not replying.
    If i see a question that i know the answer to i will try my best to help.
  • janer1967
    janer1967 Community member Posts: 21,964 Disability Gamechanger
    Options
    Never had any problems with my smart meter on for both gas and electric 
  • ByTheSea
    ByTheSea Community member Posts: 39 Connected
    edited October 2022
    Options
    @OverlyAnxious it is wrong that they get minimal training though if people are given the wrong information or not helped ?  If you went into Tesco and asked to be shown the freezer dept you wouldn't be happy taken in the opposite direction to the clothes dept would you ?
    The latest advice I have had following up from the CAB is that you are legally entitled to refuse a smart meter but they are entitled to make a charge for a standard one (in case anybody else comes across the same situation).     
  • Cartini
    Cartini Community member Posts: 1,108 Pioneering
    Options
    ByTheSea said:
    @OverlyAnxious it is wrong that they get minimal training though if people are given the wrong information or not helped ?  If you went into Tesco and asked to be shown the freezer dept you wouldn't be happy taken in the opposite direction to the clothes dept would you ?
    The latest advice I have had following up from the CAB is that you are legally entitled to refuse a smart meter but they are entitled to make a charge for a standard one (in case anybody else comes across the same situation).     
    Play on words now: It`s not that you are legally entitled to refuse a smart meter, it`s more that you are not legally required to have one..... yet.  The problem with that is, as you say, you can be charged for a normal meter replacement for one.  For another, a lot of energy companies are keeping their best tariffs for those who already have a smart meter or will have one installed as part of the contract.  I doubt the latter stands much now - there`s probably no such thing as a best tariff now with the ridiculous prices of gas and elastic trickery.

Brightness

Complete our feedback form and tell us how we can make the community better.