Symbio facing £100,000 fine for late payment of green taxes

Gas and electricity supplier Symbio Energy is set to be slapped with a £100,000 fine by the industry regulator for late payments into renewable energy programmes.

Ofgem said the proposed penalty, which would be reduced to £85,000 on settlement, comes after Watford-based Symbio failed to meet four payment deadlines for government renewable schemes.

The watchdog claims Symbio bosses were “aware that the company was breaking rules by missing payment deadlines and did not prevent the rule-breaking from taking place”.

While mindful of the impact of Covid-19 on the sector, other suppliers have gone to “considerable lengths” to pay on time, according to Ofgem.

Symbio has since made all the payments – totalling around £1.2 million – into the programmes, including Feed-in Tariff (FIT) payments and the Renewables Obligation (RO) scheme.

But the firm only paid up when Ofgem threatened it with, or began, enforcement action, the regulator said.

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 who do not meet their obligations around paying into these schemes and that growth cannot be at the expense of meeting regulatory obligations.”

Ofgem said Symbio missed RO payment deadlines of August 31 and September 1, then missed the October 31 final cut-off by a fortnight, finally making payment on November 13.

Symbio also missed three other payment deadlines over a four-month period for the Government’s environmental schemes.

Last October, Ofgem issued final orders against Symbio, Nabuh Energy and now-collapsed Robin Hood Energy for unpaid fees for renewable energy programmes.

It warned at the time that it could strip them of their licences if they did not pay up by the October 31 final deadline.

An original deadline at the end of September was breached by seven suppliers owing a combined £33.86 million, although many of the offenders paid up following the warning.

The Government’s RO schemes require suppliers to show they have sourced enough electricity from renewable sources to meet their own specific obligation.

The Fit scheme provides payments to owners of small-scale renewable generators, such as solar panels on homes, and is funded through levies on suppliers.