(This is the text of an email I sent to my local councillor.)
A year or so ago, I was looking into getting solar panels installed on my roof.
Just then, the Borough of Eastleigh informed me of the Solar Together Hampshire initiative, which seemed to be a great scheme that would manage the price negotiations and contract management on my behalf.
Very much because this was recommended by Eastleigh, I decided to sign up.
After the auction, I thought I had an installation and price agreed, paid the deposit, and expected delivery and installation in a reasonable time, probably just after October, which was what was promised in the documentation.
In the end, as you may know, the supplier failed to deliver, and the agreement was terminated.
I was offered a new contract with a different company, but the price for the same installation is about 50% more, as best I recall (I can’t see the offer anymore).
My deposit has been returned.
Had Eastleigh not proposed the scheme, I would have had a solar installation almost a year ago, as did my neighbour, who did not follow the scheme, being sceptical of getting involved with Eastleigh’s proposal.
I understand that companies can fail to deliver, but I also consider that the Eastleigh side of it has been pretty bad, and failed to protect my interests, in a number of ways.
Solar Together Hampshire & Eastleigh Council didn’t keep me informed, or even seem to monitor things.
All I got was messages from the supplier saying how well things were going.
And then finally I got this.
As you may know, we have been working closely with solar installer EEC over the last six months to try and help them overcome challenges in the delivery of installations.
Since our last update to you in December they have made some progress despite Covid impacting their installation crews and limiting their installation capacity. However, progress has not been at the level we believe Solar Together registrants deserve.
We have therefore taken the decision to terminate this relationship with EEC due to their failure to deliver within the agreed time frame.
Well no, this came pretty much out of the blue.
Had I known, I could have made other arrangements in good time.
It seems like Solar Together were more interested in keeping the scheme together than making sure the clients were well-informed.
And if it is a capacity problem for EEC, why am I not given the option of waiting?
It seems like EEC simply want to get out of what is now possibly a less profitable contract, so they can sell the equipment they reserved for me at higher prices to new clients.
The Covid situation and expectations have changed little since the original auction, by the way.
I could go on, but the whole thing is very smelly to me.
I couldn’t get out of the contract without losing the deposit – although I would have done so if I had not kept being assured that the installation would indeed happen.
That’s what really pisses me off – Solar Together could have told me much earlier, and indeed terminated things 6 months earlier.
EEC seem to have paid no price or felt any penalties for their behaviour.
To begin with, why did they not have any penalties in the contract?
They are now happily trading, claiming high levels of customer satisfaction.
Have the Solar Together company or staff suffered in any way for this mess?
I suspect not.
The only people who have been caused any difficulty are the Eastleigh Borough residents.
The only mention I can find in Council documents of Solar Together is:
POLICY AND PERFORMANCE SCRUTINY PANEL Monday, 6 December 2021
CLIMATE AND ENVIRONMENT EMERGENCY UPDATE Report of the Climate Change Manager
they promoted ‘Solar Together’ a group buying scheme which will lead to 138 residents installing solar photovoltaic systems in the Borough.
As if all was well and good at that time, when it must have been known that the contract was in great danger of collapse.
You aren’t even publicising it in LibDem FOCUS or the Borough News sheets.
You really should – at least other residents would get some warning to stay away from EEC, and also consequently EEC might lose some custom, which seems fair.
And also to avoid the whole Solar Together activities – which now look extremely dodgy to me.
I am shocked at the way my Borough Council has treated me.
Disappointed at the financial disadvantage it has caused.
Disappointed that EEC seem to have walked away scot-free, to bid on in more auctions etc.
And disappointed at the reduction in green technology that has resulted.