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Symbio Energy faces £100,000 fine for late payments

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27/01/2021
Symbio Energy could be hit with a £100,000 fine for late payments into an environmental scheme to help the UK reach its net zero carbon emissions target, the regulator has revealed.

The small supplier which offers 100% green energy for customers, could be fined £100,000 – or £85,000 if it agrees to settle – for making four late payments into government renewables schemes.

Regulator Ofgem revealed that last year, Symbio missed obligatory deadlines of 31 August and 1 September 2020 to pay into funds which support large-scale renewable electricity projects in the UK.

It also failed to provide certificates showing it had met its renewable energy obligations and missed an extended deadline in October, finally making payment on 13 November.

Ofgem added that it missed three other payment deadlines over a four-month period, including one which covers shortfalls from the previous year, and Feed-in Tariff (FIT) payments. The FIT scheme promotes the uptake of smaller scale renewable and low-carbon electricity generation.

What compounded the issue was that senior management were aware that the company was breaking rules by missing payment deadlines and did not prevent the rule-breaking from taking place, according to Ofgem.

While the regulator acknowledges the impact of coronavirus on suppliers, it said that other energy providers “have gone to considerable lengths to pay on time”.

‘Consumers and other suppliers left to pick up the tab’

Symbio has now made all payments totalling £1.2m but Cathryn Scott, Ofgem’s director of enforcement and emerging issues, said: “Schemes like the Renewables Obligation and Feed-in Tariff provide vital support to renewable electricity generators and are crucial to building a green energy system, helping Britain hit government net zero carbon emissions targets.

“Suppliers that do not make payments on time undermine the integrity of these schemes, gain unfairly financially, and ultimately leave consumers and other suppliers to pick up the tab.

“This proposed fine sends a strong message that Ofgem will not tolerate suppliers that do not meet their obligations around paying into these schemes and that growth cannot be at the expense of meeting regulatory obligations.”

Richard Neudegg, head of regulation at comparison site Uswitch.com, added: “This proposed fine sends a very clear message to all providers about the importance of paying promptly into environmental schemes, playing a part in hitting the country’s net zero carbon emissions targets.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has put great pressure on energy suppliers – especially the smaller ones like Symbio Energy. But late payments sound alarm bells and can often be an early sign that a supplier is struggling with its finances.”

YourMoney.com has approached Symbio for comment.

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