A RENEWABLE energy company has been accused of ‘acting unlawfully’ in charging villagers thousands of pounds for work initally offered for free.
Salesmen from Renewable Energy Services (RES) door-knocked villagers in Rocester in November to offer external wall insulation for free under a green Government scheme.
However, when part of the funding was scrapped, some homeowners were then told they would have to contribute £1,500 to get the work done.
RES told the Post and Times their contracts ‘clearly state’ contributions may be necessary if external funding is pulled.
The firm’s bosses have also highlighted their problem is shared by small energy firms across the UK.
Les Humphries, 72, of Eton Road, has refused the work but still has scaffolding erected in his garden.
He said: “As far as I’m concerned, my neighbours and I signed a contract clearly stating the work would be done for free.
“They came round and said they needed to put up scaffolding and make alterations to my garden to access neighbours’ properties.
“Some of my neighbours have had the work done for free but it was later deemed I needed to pay £1,500.
“I have told them I’m not having the work done and forwarded my concerns to my local councillor, Philip Atkins, who has contacted Trading Standards.
“I’m absolutely disgusted. I was always taught that, if you make an agreement, even if it’s just on the strength of a handshake, let alone a contract, you stick to it.”
RES boss Steve Shirley said: “It was always intended that all the system-built properties in Rocester were going to be fully-funded for external wall insulation under the governments ECO scheme known as CERO.
“However, since George Osbourne’s Autumn Statement in December, all the energy suppliers have significantly reduced their funding rates, forcing our contract clause 12 Force Majeure to become applicable.
“Customers in Rocester have been advised they can cancel the agreement, make a contribution or take out a Green Deal Plan.
“Should customers need further advice or information they should contact the office.”
County council trading standards chief Gill Heath said: “In this case the company was not operating lawfully and a trading standards officer has advised them of this.
“The company should not have stated this work would be free of charge on the paperwork and then reneged on this – whatever the reason.”