Posted: 6 December, 2013. Written by Mark
Report highlights positive customer satisfaction in small scale renewables
The Renewable Energy Consumer Code (RECC) has “good, well managed and effective processes” to protect domestic customers of renewable energy equipment, according to an audit report recently published by the Trading Standards Institute (TSI) . The audit report, one of the first under TSI’s new Consumer Codes Approval Scheme (CCAS), comes as RECC is preparing for a busy 2014 with the forthcoming launch of the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive.
TSI Chief Executive Leon Livermore said:
“More than 4,700 businesses are RECC approved, which means consumers have a variety of reputable businesses to choose from when making renewable energy purchasing decisions. Part of TSI’s Consumer Codes Approval Scheme, RECC is held to high industry standards through continuous audits and checks. These audits not only raise industry standards, they create a degree of trust among businesses and consumers.”
TSI examined all of RECC’s activities designed to support both member companies and consumers, and concluded that RECC “devotes substantial resources to the efficient operation of its scheme”.
Promoting the sector
TSI found RECC’s procedures for considering membership applications, for monitoring members’ compliance with the Code and for dealing with non-compliance with the Code to be fit for purpose. TSI also praised “the openness and transparency” RECC demonstrates with the information on its website and noted the fact that “92% of customers rate [their installer’s customer service] at 9/10 or higher.”
RECC Chief Executive Virginia Graham said:
“We welcome TSI’s vote of confidence in RECC and the microgeneration sector. TSI is satisfied that RECC’s checks on compliance are robust and that consumers can trust in our logo on an installer’s literature and website. The overwhelming majority of installers abide by the Code and deliver excellent service to consumers. But we recognise that there is always more work to be done.”
RECC engages with consumers both pre-purchase and post-installation. RECC has committed to increasing its pre-purchase consumer engagement, to ensure that households considering renewable energy can make well informed decisions. TSI was impressed with RECC’s post-installation complaints-handling process, which resolves 94% of complaints received in-house . RECC receives on average 100 complaints each month, many caused by changes to the Feed-in Tariff over the past 18 months. The introduction of the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive is likely to increase the number and complexity of complaints RECC processes.
Virginia Graham said:
“The small-scale renewables industry has grown rapidly and adapted to drastic changes in Government policy. This has been very difficult for members and consumers alike and has caused the number of complaints to increase dramatically. Crucially though, the proportion of solar PV installations leading to complaints remains low: in 2012, there were 191 satisfactory installations for every one complaint RECC received.
“The majority of complaints we do receive concern only some 10% of our members, some of whom are persistently failing to comply with the Code. Our caseworkers work tirelessly to help members and consumers resolve these complaints. It is very gratifying to see TSI acknowledge this tremendous effort by a small team making a big difference.”
Moving forward in 2014
TSI recognises that 2014 is going to be a busy year for RECC, with the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive set to kick-start the market for household renewable heat technologies such as solar hot water systems, wood fuel boilers and heat pumps. RECC will be applying lessons from its work with the Feed-in Tariff, as well as REAL’s role in the Green Deal Oversight and Registration Body, to the new challenges in renewable heating.
Virginia Graham said:
“With energy bills continuing to rise, the Government’s support schemes for self-supply of electricity and heat present great opportunities for cutting costs as well as carbon. The Renewable Heat Incentive is a world-first, so it’s especially important that consumers ensure they take control of the transaction from the start, so they can get a good deal on a renewable heating system which is suitable for their home. This means thoroughly researching the technologies and support schemes, comparing at least three quotes and ensuring their installers are registered with RECC and MCS.”
RECC is operated by Renewable Energy Assurance Ltd (REAL), a subsidiary company of the Renewable Energy Association (REA). Set up in 2006, REAL is now involved in the operation of two consumer codes and five certification schemes, ranging from renewable energy and energy efficiency to compost and biofertiliser.
Distributed by the REA on behalf of REAL.
For more information or to request an interview, please contact:
Press Officer, REA
+44 (0)20 7981 0856
Notes to editors
More information on TSI’s Consumer Codes Approval Scheme is available at: www.tradingstandards.gov.uk/advice/ConsumerCodes.cfm