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Energy for Britain
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Atman



Joined: 05 Nov 2012
Posts: 81

PostPosted: Sat Aug 23, 2014 12:54 pm    Post subject: Energy for Britain Reply with quote

I've been offered a job to work for these guys: www.energyforbritain.com and I'd like an all clear from the PS forum so I can get to work with a clean conscience.

The deal, from what I was told by the interviewer, is that the customer takes out a loan to purchase solar panels for their home, and the Feed in Tarriff (FiT) generates enough income to cover the loan repayments. Approximate numbers are repayments of 70/mn and income from tariffs at around 90/mn. Energy for Britain don't claim ownership of the panels of the roof, so the problems that have arisen for people trying to sell their houses with another companies solar panels on the roof are avoided.

Checking the above numbers on another website reveals:

" If a household installed a 2.5kW solar system, the Feed-In Tariffs would provide the following benefits:

In a typical location in South central England this system should generate about 2,125kWh each year, earning a generation tariff of about 330 a year[1], tax-free; plus

If, say 1,500kWh is used in the home this would save a further 210 per annum if electricity costs are 14p/kWh; plus

The remaining 625kWh would be exported, earning about 30 under the export tariff.

Therefore the total benefit would be around 570 to 590[2] per year.
[1] Nov 2012 to Jan 2013 installations at higher rate
[2] Because most houses without export meters receive the export tariff for 50% of the generation - about 50."

Should I take the job and feel happy about doing this?
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Atman



Joined: 05 Nov 2012
Posts: 81

PostPosted: Sat Aug 23, 2014 2:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Catweazle and Tarrel, I read the other topic about solar sales, if you have any advice for me I'd appreciate it. My job would be calling potential customers and trying to arrange an appointment for another sales rep to visit them personally.
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fuzzy



Joined: 29 Nov 2013
Posts: 595
Location: The Marches, UK

PostPosted: Sat Aug 23, 2014 5:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

They are basically lending people money. The panels are bought on credit and presumably the company want you to clear the debt if the house is sold, so the owner gets less from the sale. My questions would be what interest are they charged? Is it fixed interest? They could probably borrow on their house security [ie extend their mortgage] at a lower interest. Does the company expect a commitment from you? Payment by results, costs of uniform, training, using your vehicle etc?
Presumably the feed in tarrif could change anytime the gov chooses, so the repayment maths are uncertain - it's just another form of debt. I suspect there will be a turnover of staff who can't stomach selling something iffy. You sound like a big picture person like myself. Maybe you will not be able to grin and sell customers a bummer, if thats what the scheme is. But you could take it as a selling experience if it could get you other job offers. A huge number of people in the UK are employed in jobs of dubious value, but if it helps your life.....
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Atman



Joined: 05 Nov 2012
Posts: 81

PostPosted: Sat Aug 23, 2014 5:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The financing is though Tesco Bank at around 5.7% APR if between 5000 and 7499. Judging from http://www.theecoexperts.co.uk/how-much-do-solar-panels-cost-uk a 3kW set up would cost between 4,000 and 6,000.

From memory, the interviewer mentioned how the ROI for the buyer is about +8% per year, which sounds too good to be true given the rate of interest gained on savings.
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biffvernon



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
Posts: 18551
Location: Lincolnshire

PostPosted: Sat Aug 23, 2014 6:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Atman wrote:

From memory, the interviewer mentioned how the ROI for the buyer is about +8% per year, which sounds too good to be true given the rate of interest gained on savings.


That sounds about the going rate for investment in renewables. It's worth it.
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Catweazle



Joined: 17 Feb 2008
Posts: 2189
Location: Little England, over the hills

PostPosted: Sat Aug 23, 2014 10:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Altman.

I would be a little worried about buying panels right now. There is talk that the next generation of panel will work well from the IR spectrum, which means cloudy days are no problem. This might affect the FIT and re-sale price for current panels. Who knows.
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Tarrel



Joined: 29 Nov 2011
Posts: 2447
Location: Ross-shire, Scotland

PostPosted: Sun Aug 24, 2014 11:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This sounds like one of the many solar installation companies out there, just wanting to drum up business, which is fine as far as I can see.

You're right, Altman, to point out that the buyer gets ownership of the panels which, IIRC, was different from the scheme CW was looking at. As you've described it, this looks like a simple case of; "Buy the panels from us, here's the interest rate on the finance we can offer, and here are the projected incomes based on current information." Seems honest and straightforward enough.

Observations:

As stated above, technically the government could change the feed in tariff deal. However, their track record has been that, although the tariff for new installations has been gradually reducing, the rate committed at the time of installation has been maintained.

I would assume that the finance is unsecured and at a fixed interest rate, as in a regular personal loan. In this case, there shouldn't be any obligation to clear the debt if the owner sells the house and, hence, the panels. They just remain obligated to pay the debt until it's cleared, even though they won't have the benefit of the panel income. Worth checking this though.

Remember that the "income" from solar panels comes from three things; the feed-in tariff for everything you generate, the export tariff for any surplus you feed in to the grid, and the savings in electricity you don't have to pay for because you generated it yourself. These latter savings are only going to increase as energy costs rise, so you could say you would be selling an investment that hedges against inflation.

I agree with the comment above, that 8% return is not unrealistic. The projections for our community-owned wind turbine are 7% at the realistic end, and higher than this at the optimistic end.


As far as ethics are concerned, you could say that the solar PV industry is very much part of the "business as usual" economy. There is an amount of embedded energy in the manufacture and transportation of the panels from China, etc. However, IMHO, it probably represents one of the more ethical things to be selling in such an economy. There's a whole debate to be had about subsidies of renewables and the impact these have on energy costs for poorer folk, and whether this is an essential price to pay for reducing our carbon emissions, etc, etc.

If one could wave a magic wand, I suppose one would be selling for a company that manufactures its panels locally, arranges finance through an ethical bank or some kind of community peer-to-peer lending scheme, and can present a financial case for it being a good investment without relying on government subsidies (i.e. FITs), but that'ts not what's on offer and, hey, a man's got to eat.

In summary, based on how you've described it, it doesn't look like a rip-off for the consumer although, as the appointment-maker, you would probably be getting people to open their doors to some pretty heavy selling techniques, depending on the company.

That's what I think anyway. hope it helps, and sorry for rambling on!
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Atman



Joined: 05 Nov 2012
Posts: 81

PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2014 11:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Catweazle wrote:
Hi Altman.

I would be a little worried about buying panels right now. There is talk that the next generation of panel will work well from the IR spectrum, which means cloudy days are no problem. This might affect the FIT and re-sale price for current panels. Who knows.


The interviewer mentioned something about this, how the solar panels they sell function on cloudy days as well and non-cloudy days.
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Gavin A



Joined: 26 Aug 2014
Posts: 2
Location: Leeds

PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2014 7:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

if you've got any integrity don't do it, find a decent solar company to work for as the figures you've quoted simply don't stack up.

90 a month FIT income is 1080 a year, which divided by 14.3p/kWh comes out at 7552kWh a year, or roughly double what would realistically be expected for most 4kWp systems.

Or being charitable, if they included the export payments that'd be 1080 / 16.69p/kWh = 6394kWh a year.

About the only possible way I could see that stacking up without being outright fraud would be if they were talking about the average annualised FIT and export income over the 20 year FIT period allowing for the annual RPI increases, but that would still leave the customers well out of pocket during the time they're repaying their loan.

For comparison a recent 4kWp quote we did gave approx 645 first year FIT and export income, so that wouldn't even cover the loan repayment costs of 840 a year - include the energy savings and high energy users might just about break even during the loan repayment period.

ah... you'd also be cold calling people to sell them loans for over priced solar PV systems based on lies about the figures. Lovely. Surely there's a better way?
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Atman



Joined: 05 Nov 2012
Posts: 81

PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2014 10:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Damn it's probably a con-operation. Firstly, I hear 'as low as 4.1% APR if your credit rating is good' said a lot, and if this is true, the loan has to be between 7500 and 15000 using the Tesco rates as it is they who provide the finance. Moreover, they are reluctant to install systems over 4kW as these don't qualify for the highest FiT, and (iirc) require tax to be paid. So they are selling 4kW systems for at least 7500, which seems to be well above the market average.

Then I hear people say to potential buyers that if they sell their home the cost of their property will increase by 16,000. This is just a number they pulled out of their arse.

And lastly, it's always said that the savings on a persons energy bill will exceed the monthly repayments to Tesco. But if a loan repayment after borrowing 7500 is 92/month, that's 1104/year and there is no way even a 4kW system can save them that much.

What do I do?! I could ring them and ask them to fire me immediately because I can't do it anymore? I made zero appointments today, it's clear that I'm not a natural at this sales business.
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Atman



Joined: 05 Nov 2012
Posts: 81

PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2014 10:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Damn it's probably a con-operation. Firstly, I hear 'as low as 4.1% APR if your credit rating is good' said a lot, and if this is true, the loan has to be between 7500 and 15000 using the Tesco rates as it is they who provide the finance. Moreover, they are reluctant to install systems over 4kW as these don't qualify for the highest FiT, and (iirc) require tax to be paid. So they are selling 4kW systems for at least 7500, which seems to be well above the market average.

Then I hear people say to potential buyers that if they sell their home the cost of their property will increase by 16,000. This is just a number they pulled out of their arse.

And lastly, it's always said that the savings on a persons energy bill will exceed the monthly repayments to Tesco. But if a loan repayment after borrowing 7500 is 92/month, that's 1104/year and there is no way even a 4kW system can save them that much.

What do I do?! I could ring them and ask them to fire me immediately because I can't do it anymore? I made zero appointments today, it's clear that I'm not a natural at this sales business.
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Atman



Joined: 05 Nov 2012
Posts: 81

PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2014 10:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

*double post*

p.s. I have a little integrity!
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Gavin A



Joined: 26 Aug 2014
Posts: 2
Location: Leeds

PostPosted: Wed Aug 27, 2014 1:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

make the choice, be part of the solution or part of the problem, the only way you'll make money cold calling for them is by knowingly misleading people into taking out loans where the repayments won't be covered by the FIT payments

These types of operations are discrediting the solar industry, ripping people off and annoying the hell out of people with these cold calling operations.

blow the whistle on them to RECC if they're making misleading claims.

complaints@recc.org.uk

but also do some research, find some decent solar companies in your area, then approach them for a trainee sales role. If they're anything like us, they'l be struggling to cope with the inquiries coming in, and be looking to take on the right sorts of people with the right attitudes and motivations.
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Atman



Joined: 05 Nov 2012
Posts: 81

PostPosted: Wed Aug 27, 2014 11:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I quit! Problem solved.
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PS_RalphW



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
Posts: 5267
Location: Cambridge

PostPosted: Wed Aug 27, 2014 2:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Visited friends last week. They share a house with the wife's mother (granny flat) and are basically eco-friendly types, and have installed about a 3KW (peak) PV array which does them well with the FIT scheme (they get the highest rate) and they should get payback in under a decade.

HOWEVER

The mother-in-law has seen fit to build a Jacuzzi in a shed in the garden, which is heated electrically for 3 hours a day at 3KW consuming, I estimate, 3/4 of the electricity they generate, and their own consumption will easily take the remaining 1/4.

So they have spent 13,000 up front, paid for long term by the tax payer, so their mother can have a nice bath each day.

I'm not sure they thought through the numbers up front, but they really thought they were doing their bit for the environment.
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