Octopus Energy’s solar certification shift raises concerns

Octopus’ policy change allowing non-accredited solar installers to access its Smart Export Guarantee tariffs has raised concerns about potential compromises in solar quality and safety standards

Octopus Energy has recently implemented a significant policy shift, drawing concerns from industry experts.

The energy supplier’s decision to broaden access to its Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) tariffs, by permitting non-accredited solar installers to apply, has eliminated the prior requirement for Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) certification.

This policy adjustment is in response to a shortage of MCS-accredited solar installers across the country, with Octopus Energy aiming to encourage greater adoption of solar energy while expanding its market presence.

The move has sparked apprehension within the industry, particularly concerning the potential impact on quality and safety standards.

The MCS, renowned for its strict quality and safety criteria, previously held the authority to inspect solar panel installations at any time and take corrective actions if the installations did not meet established standards.

Ben Price, Co-Founder of Heatable Solar, has voiced concerns about these changes.

Mr Price said: “Octopus Energy has introduced a one-time fee of £250 for this service, while traditional MCS-certified installers may typically charge between £400-£600 more.

“Consequently, customers who opt for unregulated installers while still desiring SEG payments may find Octopus Energy as their sole provider, as no other providers have followed suit in eliminating the MCS requirement.

“It’s important to note that MCS certification not only encompasses installation standards and assessments but also includes a range of consumer protections, covering aspects like selling, designing, and the mandatory requirement to house deposit or staged payment funds through third-party intermediaries. These consumer benefits may be compromised with the removal of the MCS accreditation.”

In response, Rebecca Dibb-Simkin, Chief Product Officer at Octopus Energy told Energy Live News: “MCS is an important assurance scheme which encourages consumer protection – and we strongly recommend anyone getting solar panels installed go through the MCS process.

“However, there are a small minority of customers who have had solar panels installed through a reputable but non-MCS accredited installer – and we don’t believe they should just automatically be denied access to export payments.

“As we’re constantly considering how we can best look after customers and best respond to their needs, we recently decided to start offering export payments to those with Flexi-orb certification as well as MCS.

“We also launched a carefully limited trial to see how we could potentially provide customers access to export payments for solar panels installed without an MCS or Flexi-orb certificate. For customers applying via this trial, we still require lots of detailed documentation about their installation.

“Based on this information, we then analyse each application to see if they’re eligible. We also charge an administration fee as this requires some additional manual processing work.”

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