When Peter Brown installed solar panels at his Northumberland home in August 2021, he hoped to make his investment back in less than a decade, by selling energy back to the grid as part of the Government’s Smart Export Guarantee.
Despite soaring energy bills, the £14,000 installation soon began to pay off, and Mr Brown, 87, was £15 in credit with his supplier one month later.
But the very next month, in October 2022, the supplier folded – and Mr Brown was moved to British Gas. He was paid at a rate of 3.2p per kWh for the electricity he exported, and his new supplier assured him the arrangement would continue, although he would receive any credit twice a year rather than once a month.
However even after six months, Mr Brown did not receive the payment – and a year later he claims British Gas still owes him £108.
Mr Brown and his wife have a smart meter, through which their previous supplier had been able to measure how much electricity they exported to the grid, however British Gas demanded to see a photograph of the display as it was suspicious of the “very high” readings. Photographing the display, which has a tinted glass front, was a task that proved difficult for the pensioner.
Initially Mr Brown emailed a photo of the display to British Gas, but was told the file size was too large. He then printed the photo and posted it to the supplier at his own expense, but this too was rejected as it was “illegible”, the supplier said.
With the help of his 18-year-old grandson, Mr Brown was able to resize the file and email it a second time, but British Gas rejected the image, again because of its low quality.
“I’m a bit fed up with the whole process,” he said. “It was obvious they were just stalling and trying to fob me off.”
‘Your cheque’s in the post’
In August 2022 the supplier agreed to pay Mr Brown the £108 after he rang the supplier to complain and provided a verbal reading over the phone. The pensioner asked for the money to be paid via cheque, as he did not have his bank details to hand.
But as of the time of writing, Mr Brown has not been sent the money, despite British Gas informing him the cheque was “in the post” 28 days after his complaint. The supplier, Mr Brown said, then told him there was an issue with its printer.
In an email dated October 11 this year, a representative admitted the cheque had not been posted, that there was “no timescale for the resolution” but the payment would be sent “as soon as possible”.
A spokesman for British Gas said: “We’re sorry it’s taken time to resolve Mr Brown’s complaint, we’re in touch to let him know that his £108 payment is now on the way.”