Struggling mum-of two facing legal action over solar panels she doesn’t want

Shazmeen Khan had solar panels put on her roof before the coronavirus pandemic started but wants them taken down after receiving bills which she says ‘don’t make sense’

Shazmeen Khan, 37, has lived in the property for nine years and had solar panels put on her roof before the pandemic

A mum is being threatened with legal action after not paying bills for solar panels she says she doesn’t want.

Shazmeen Khan, 37, has lived in the property for nine years and had solar panels put on her roof before the coronavirus pandemic started.

The panels were installed on the roof of a property she shares with her young sons, aged four and eight.

But now Shazmeen wants them taken down after after receiving bills which she claims ‘don’t make sense’.

She told StokeonTrentLive: “In the summertime, they were coming around knocking on the doors and telling us about this scheme. They said they were working with Stoke-on-Trent City Council and I had 14 days to change my mind.

“I thought what they said was too good to be true, so I wanted to confirm it with the council.

“I rang the company the next day and said I’m not interested in solar panels and she said that’s fine. I asked if I could get a confirmation and was told I am within 14 days so it will just cancel.

“A month later, I got a call from them saying they were told I’ve canceled the contract. I said I was within my right to cancel and they said because I am a council tenant, you have to get it done.

“I said the council didn’t tell me about this. I spoke to the council and they said they are working with Solarplicity and I need to have it done because every council property is having it done. Solarplicity rang me back and asked if I spoke to the council.

“They gave me days available for the installation. They installed the panels and then they started sending me these bills.”

The CES is an arrangement between Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Community Energy Scheme UK Limited – part of the Solarplicity Group.

It has installed solar panels on more than 5,000 council properties since being launched in 2018.

Shazmeen already pays £60 a month to Eon for gas and electricity – and is in arrears due to the rising costs of living. The CES is now taking legal action against her.

She told Stoke-on-TrentLive: “I am in arrears already because the prices have gone up and that’s how much I can afford to pay. Every time I try to ring the CES to get an explanation, they don’t answer.

“They are sending me bills every time. It’s like they are making up their own readings. It doesn’t even make sense. They are taking it forward towards legal action now.

“Solarplicity said I owe them money, but for what? I am paying Eon for my electricity, so what are you on about?

“He said it’s not the electricity I am paying for, I am paying them back for the solar panels. I’m like, I beg your pardon?

“I asked how the panels will help and they told me it will lower my energy bills. When I told him I’m on a different tariff and asked if I need to change, they said I can keep to my own.

“He says what happens when you have these solar panels is, when the electricity gets generated, you’re re-using that and whatever is left over goes back into the National Grid. They’re sending us bills, but it’s paying for the solar panels.”

Shazmeen added: “I am very frustrated and angry. They say they will take me to court if I don’t make the payment. I don’t know what to do. I feel like I’ve been deceived and ripped off.

“I am so stressed. I feel like I need help and nobody is helping me. I am in a mess that I’ve been put in by somebody else, I’ve been dragged into it. They are saying I owe them £329.48.”

She added: “I would like them to take the solar panels off. I didn’t want them in the first place. I am still paying bills and there’s no way I am paying two sets of energy bills.

“I am living off benefits with two children myself, I am barely surviving. I have been so upset and depressed.”

The CES reiterated that all customers are clearly informed with what they are signing up to.

A spokesperson said: “We have been very flexible in our approach to customer payments and have recently set up a bespoke Stoke-on-Trent-based team to support those customers who have not been paying their bills.

“Options available to customers who engage with our team and provide an accurate meter reading could, for example, include 24-month payment plans or an export to the traditional energy grid for new energy use.

“However, when customers do not engage with our efforts to work with them, we must take appropriate enforcement action to settle their debts. We continue to encourage all tenants to get in touch if they have any questions or concerns so that we can support them.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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