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Ofgem proposes £100,000 fine for Symbio Energy to send ‘strong message’ about RO payments

Image: Getty.

Image: Getty.

Ofgem has proposed a £100,000 fine for Symbio Energy to send a “strong message” about late payments into government renewables schemes.

The proposal follows the regulator opening an investigation into Symbio Energy at the beginning of January after it failed to meet its Renewables Obligation (RO) and feed-in tariff (FiT) payment deadlines in 2020.

Symbio missed the obligatory deadline to pay into the RO buyout fund or present the required number of Renewables Obligation Certificates (ROCs) – which are used to demonstrate a company has sourced enough energy from renewables that they do not need to contribute to the buyout fund – by the deadlines of 31 August and 1 September 2020 respectively. It also missed the late payment deadline of 31 October.

The regulator revealed in December that the overall RO shortfall came in at £33,135,933.32, resulting in mutualisation being triggered.

Symbio Energy also missed three other payment deadlines last year as well, including one RO mutualisation payment – which suppliers make to cover RO shortfall in the previous year – and two FiT quarterly levelisation payments.

It finally made all payments to the total of £1.2 million, including the RO payments, on 13 November.

Cathryn Scott, Ofgem’s director of enforcement and emerging issues, said that schemes like the RO and FiT provided vital support to renewable 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.”

Symbio Energy was one of three suppliers issued with a final order by Ofgem at the end of October following failure to pay £15 million. This has become a common feature in recent years, and of those suppliers that failed to meet the RO late payment deadline, ten have now either gone bust or had their licences revoked. This includes Gnergy, Tonik Energy and Effortless Energy among others.

The proposed fine of Symbio Energy is designed to signal the significance of the payments to other suppliers regardless of challenges such as the impact of COVID-19. Ofgem has proposed the £100,000 fine could be reduced to £85,000 should Symbio agree to settle.

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

Current± has contacted Symbio Energy for comment.

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