31st March deadline for FIT applications for systems with MCS certificates issued before 15th Jan 2016

a recent new build solar pv installationLeeds Solar have just become aware that on 10th March DECC slipped in a Statutory Instrument that takes effect today (31st March 2016) that results in  the following urgent issue.

All existing renewable energy installations with an MCS certificate issued before 15th January 2016 must submit their Feed-In Tariff application by 31st March 2016 or they will never be able to claim any Feed-In Tariff or Export payments.

This issue is not mentioned in any Ofgem guidance as there have been no updates since the legislation was drafted, but it has recently been added to the Energy Saving Trust Fed In Tariff guidance page, copied below

  • A requirement for customers to have applied by 31 March 2016 at the latest if their installation has a Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) certificate issue date and commissioning date of 14 January 2016 or earlier. This applies to all MCS technologies under the scheme. 

We have produced a revised version of appropriate sections of the legislation including the new amendments at the bottom of this blog article, as well as a quick guide to the issue for those potentially affected.

Who does this affect?

Anyone with an installation that has an MCS certificate dated on or before 15th January 2016 who hasn't already submitted a Feed-In Tariff application.

In general this is likely to mainly apply to installations on new build domestic or commercial properties, but could also apply to people where the installer didn't send them the MCS certificate in time, or they mistakenly thought that the installer had submitted the application for them, or similar reasons.

Who isn't affected?

Anyone who has already submitted a Feed-In Tariff application, or has registered for preliminary accreditation, or has an MCS certificate dated on or after 16th January 2016, or is a system that is bigger than 50kW DNC (inverter capacity) and therefore wouldn't have had an MCS certificate issued.

What must you do if you're affected by this change?

If you are affected by this change you must submit a Feed-In Tariff application electronically by TODAY - by midnight on 31st March 2016.

I can't get an EPC in time, or can't get an EPC of D or higher, what should I do?

Forget about the EPC now, by the end of 31st March you must submit the Feed-In Tariff application without the EPC and complete the EPC declaration 3 on the application form to confirm that an EPC of level D has not been achieved.

If you do this then you will be eligible for Feed-In Tariff payments at the reduced rate of 0.87p / kWh, plus export payments at 4.91p / kWh for the next 20 years. 

If you don't submit the application then you will be ineligible for any feed in tariff payments or export payments at all.

I have an EPC of D or higher what should I do?

If this EPC was issued before the MCS certificate then submit the FIT application today (31st March 2016) and complete declaration 1 for the EPC declaration, The system will be eligible for the current higher FIT rate.

If the EPC was issued after the MCS certificate then it's unclear to us whether the old EPC rules apply as it's a system that was commissioned under the old rules, or whether the new EPC rules apply. The new rules would mean that the EPC has to be issued on or before the date that the PV system was commissioned, so if the new rules do apply then unfortunately your system would only be eligible for the lowest FIT rate of 0.87p/kWh, plus export payments at 4.91p / kWh. In this case though we would recommend still completing declaration 1 for the EPC declaration on the FIT form in the hope that it will be judged that the previous rules should apply. We think that the worst case scenario would be that you would be dropped down to the 0.87p/kWh category if the FIT supplier / Ofgem judge that this is how the rules should apply.

I'm affected by this change but I can't submit my FIT application in time what should I do?

We're very sorry, but as far as we can tell from the legislation, if you're unable to submit an application before midnight on 31st March then your system isn't going to be eligible for the Feed-In Tariff or export payments at all, and there doesn't seem to be anything that your installer or Feed-In Tariff supplier is going to be able to do about it. We can't change the date on the MCS certificate as even if we change the date the legislation and Ofgem guidance makes clear that it's the original date that is to be used for the eligibility date, and we can't issue a new MCS certificate for the same property / system as it would class as an extension and be ruled ineligible for that reason under the new rules.

Basically it's a bizarre, frustrating, badly thought our and probably illegal piece of legislation, but as an installation company we're in no position to stump up the £10-15k it would cost to challenge this legislation via judicial review.

This doesn't seem fair, who do I complain to?

We know this isn't what you will have expected when you signed up for the solar PV installation, but unfortunately the government have changed the rules without giving any of us proper notice of their intentions.

We strongly feel that this is an illegal move by DECC, and would urge anyone affected by this move to submit a formal complaint to the Energy Ombudsman , and if this doesn't work then to club together to sue DECC to recover the 20 years of lost income you had a legal right to have expected.

Unfortunately as installers we can only issue advice that is correct at the time we issue that advice, and can't be held liable for DECC's irrational and arguably illegal decisions and ways of implementing those decisions without sufficient notification to allow people the time needed to find out about the change and take action to ensure they're not badly affected by it.

Why have DECC done this?

We can only assume that DECC were attempting to do some housekeeping and ensure that they didn't get unexpected additional installations being accredited that would take them above their quarterly FIT spending caps without this being reflected in the MCS certificates being issued that quarter. Either DECC didn't realise that there could be a significant number of systems that would be affected, or they simply didn't care. We tend to the view that DECC both probably now apply, DECC really don't seem to know what they're doing, and they also don't seem to care about anything other than meeting their treasury set arbitrary budget constraints.

In fairness to the staff at DECC, they are suffering from high levels of jobs cuts within the department in the name of austerity, so have probably been beaten into submission.


I'm an installer with customers who I think might be affected what should I do?

Drop everything and get in touch with any potentially affected customers urgently. The customers are not going to be happy about the situation, but If this change takes place before you notify them about it then they're going to be doubly unhappy with you and could have grounds for a complaint.

Also please do let DECC know how bad this legislation is, complain to your MP about it, and support any Solar Trade Association action if they're able to do anything about it in time.

NB. This article is copyright of Leeds Solar, but we hereby give permission for it to be reproduced as long as it is credited to Leeds Solar and a link is inserted back to this blog page.

What does the legislation say?

We've compiled and amended version of the relevant sections of the FIT order below, with the revisions in bold italics, and removed sections crossed out. 

The original documents can be found at these links

Feed-In Tariffs (amendment) order 2016

Feed-In Tariffs (amendment) (no.3) order 2015


Relevant text of the FIT order including amendments.

Explanatory Note

article 4 (application of this Chapter) to insert a cut-off date of 31st March 2016 so that “excluded transitional applications” made after that date can no longer be accredited. An excluded transitional installation is one that would fall into the definition of transitional installation within the meaning of article 8D(1)(b) had it been made between 15th January and 31st March 2016;  


Part 3 (accreditation and matters relating to accreditation)

4. For article 4 (application of this Chapter) substitute—

“4.—(1) This Chapter applies where an application other than an excluded transitional application has been made which meets the conditions in paragraph (2) or (3).

(2) The conditions in this paragraph are that—

(a) an application has been made to the Authority for accreditation of an eligible installation which—

(i) uses anaerobic digestion;

(ii) is a hydro generating station; or

(iii) uses any other eligible low-carbon energy source, and has a declared net capacity of more than 50 kilowatts;

and (b) at least one of the following applies—

(i) the installation was commissioned before the application was made;

(ii) the installation has been granted preliminary accreditation, and the application for accreditation was made within the period of validity of that preliminary accreditation; or

(iii) the application is within paragraph (1)(a) of article 8D (transitional installations).

(3) The conditions in this paragraph are that—

(a) an application has been made to a FIT licensee for FIT payments for an eligible installation which uses an MCS-FIT technology;

(b) the FIT licensee has submitted details of the installation to the Authority for accreditation under the process for MCS-certified registration; and

(c) not less than two weeks have passed since the date on which the installation’s MCS certificate was issued.”.  

(4) In paragraph (3)(a), “an excluded transitional application” means an application which—

(a) is made to a FIT licensee on or after 1st April 2016; and

(b) would have been within article 8D(1)(b) if it had been made to a FIT licensee between 15th January and 31st March 2016

Transitional installations 8D.—

(1) This article applies where—

(a) an application has been made to the Authority before 15th January 2016 for accreditation of an eligible installation which is of a type mentioned in article 4(2)(a), whose commissioning date is on or after 15th January 2016; or

(b) an application is made to a FIT licensee between 15th January 2016 and 31st March 2016 for FIT payments for an eligible installation which uses a MCS-FIT technology, whose MCS certificate’s issue date is before 15th January 2016.

(b) an application is made to a FIT licensee between 15th January 2016 and 31st March 2016 for FIT payments for an eligible installation which uses a MSC-FIT technology and whose MCS certificate’s issue date is before 15th January 2016, but is not— (i) a community energy installation which has been pre-registered in accordance with article 11(pre-registration of community energy installations); or (ii) a school installation which has been pre-registered in accordance with article 12 (pre-registration of school installations).

(2) Where this article applies—

(a) in the case of the installation referred to in paragraph (1)(a), its eligibility date will be the later of—

(i) the date on which its application for accreditation was received by the Authority; or

(ii) the date on which the installation is commissioned; and its tariff date will be the same as its eligibility date; and

(b) in the case of an installation referred to in paragraph (1)(b), its eligibility date and tariff date will be 8th February 2016."


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