Woman ‘terrified’ bailiffs will come knocking due to solar panel energy bills

Sylvia Evans has lived in her two-bed semi-detached home for more than a decade and had solar panels installed three years ago but is now terrified by her bills

Sylvia is worried about her bills

A council tenant who signed up for a scheme to have solar panels installed on her roof now wants them removed after being left terrified of bailiffs knocking on her door.

Sylvia Evans has lived in her two-bed semi-detached home in the Blurton area of ​​Stoke on Trent for more than a decade and had solar panels installed three years ago.

But she now wishes she had never been agreed to the Solarplicity scheme, backed by the Stoke-on-Trent City Council, which is now known as the Community Energy Scheme (CES).

The 66-year-old said she has arthritis, a pacemaker, and breathing difficulties and now claims she has received multiple bills which she is unable to pay.

Sylvia is already on a monthly tariff with Shell Energy for her gas and electricity – and says she doesn’t know what the CES bills are for.

Solarplicity Energy ceased trading in August 2019 after criticism from Ofgem and the Energy Ombudsman, with the ombudsman receiving 3,324 complaints about billing, switching and service.

She wants the panels removed (file photo)


Pete Stonier/ Stoke Sentinel)

The free community energy scheme was offered to more than 6,000 homes through Stoke-on-Trent City Council from 2018 and for every house that signed up the authority got £100.

Other residents have previously claimed they were mis-sold 25 year contracts with the company.

Sylvia told Stoke on Trent Live: “I have told them to come and take the solar panels off – and they have said they can’t do that.

“I keep getting messages saying I owe money. I am just baffled. We just don’t know what to do. I don’t want the panels.”

Sylvia says the panels in her attic are currently believed to be switched off.

She added: “A man came out to have a look and said they were not even switched on.

“I got a letter from them saying the reason I am not saving any money is because the panels are not on. I didn’t know they were switched off because we can’t go into the attic.

“The most recent bill said that if I don’t pay then a debt collector will get involved.

“I feel terrified. The bills are different every time. The last one said over £230.

“It tells me to set up a direct debit. I want to know what’s going on. If they had said I had an option to leave it, I would have done it.

“I have already got enough worries without adding this to it.

“I like to keep my bills under control so having this money sprung on me gets worrying. The solar panels are still off – and I am still getting bills.”

CES has said that all its customers are clearly informed of what they are signing up to.

A spokesman 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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