Farmers comparing electricity tariffs should ensure they are comparing like with like, following a change in the way some companies itemise their bills.
In a bid to become more transparent, some electricity firms are separating out the Feed-in Tariffs levy – a supplement payable to subsidise the FiTs renewable energy scheme – from the headline electricity rate.
But, as a result, some farmers are signing up to new contracts without realising the FiTs levy will be payable on top, rather than being included in the headline rate.
In the South West, five farmers recently signed up to Scottish & Southern Energy (SSE) through Mole Valley Farmers, at what they believed was a competitive rate, only to later receive letters informing them of the extra FiTs charge. One such farmer was Jon Rogers, who keeps 100 beef cattle at Ilton Farm, Malborough, Devon.
“We signed up to a tariff of 11.57p/unit, and three weeks later we got a letter saying we were going to be charged 0.243p on top of that,” he said. “That would add £120 to my bill over the two-year contract period.” However, SSE refused to release Mr Rogers from the contract, because the actual base rate was unchanged.
“The climate change levy is another such charge – many people just aren’t aware they’re paying it because it’s built into the electricity companies’ headline rate.”
Jonathan Scurlock, NFU chief renewable energy advisor
“If we were dairy farmers that would cost an extra £400-500,” said Mr Rogers.
A spokesman for SSE admitted that the affected farmers had been given incorrect information, and the firm had since waived the FiTs charge for those particular customers. “We’d like to apologise for any inconvenience that this has caused and would like to reassure customers that steps have been put in place to prevent this issue from happening again.”
Jonathan Scurlock, chief renewable energy advisor for the NFU, said consumers had been paying the FiTs levy for a number of years, but that it was only now being itemised on the bill by some companies.
“It is built into legislation – there’s no opportunity to opt out,” he said. “The climate change levy is another such charge – many people just aren’t aware they’re paying it because it’s built into the electricity companies’ headline rate.”
He urged farmers to contact the NFU’s Farm Energy Service on 0870 8445700 for advice on selecting the best energy tariff, and to ensure they were getting the most competitive deal.
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