Coronavirus (COVID-19) and government environmental programmes

1

Overview

Coronavirus is a national issue and the government is leading the response in tackling it. You should continue to monitor and follow all official advice issued at www.gov.uk/coronavirus.

Here you can find advice and answers to questions you may have on the outbreak as an applicant or participant of an environmental programme we administer for government. Use this information alongside existing scheme guidance on our environmental programmes pages. We will continue to update this information.

2

General questions

How is Ofgem reflecting the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) in scheme administration?

We continue to deliver our statutory functions in administering Government environmental and social programmes. We are prioritising areas that have the most impact on participants, such as scheme payments and enquiries, but are unable to pause work or adjust deadlines laid out in programme legislation. 

We are in close contact with Government to look at if any changes are appropriate, and can be made, particularly where we recognise that legislation dictates specific timelines.

Where the legislation does allow discretion, we will use this in our decision-making and will continue to consider the individual details of cases.

We expect monitoring to continue as part of any installation work, where it does not conflict with the latest Government advice. This is to avoid poor-quality installations which could lead to further issues requiring home visits. 

All work carried out under the programmes:

I’m a scheme participant. Are there any changes to my ongoing obligations during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis?

You should continue to meet your scheme obligations while following the latest Government guidelines, including sector-specific guidance.

If you do not think you can meet your obligations while following the latest Government guidelines, please follow the get in touch steps below.

I am scheme participant that is self-isolating or shielding. What should I do if an engineer or auditor needs to access my property?

If you are contacted about a visit to your property, state if you are unwell, shielding or self-isolating.

Suppliers and their supply chains (including engineers, auditors, installers) are putting in place plans and alternative arrangements to deal with scheme activities, such as audits at homes where occupants are self-isolating or shielding.

All work carried out under the programmes we administer:

If you are concerned or worried about the actions of a supplier or their workers, contact them to explain the issue straightaway. If you do not feel the issue is resolved, you can also report it to the Health & Safety Executive (HSE).

How should I get in touch at this time?

We are asking everyone to continue to reference existing online scheme guidance and use their online account to submit periodic data and annual reports as normal.

By email

If you have a query that can’t be answered, please email us using the following scheme email addresses:

If you need to write to us or send information, please email rather than contact us by post. Our offices are closed while we work remotely during the pandemic, and we cannot guarantee that we will get letters.

If you cannot email us, please call the relevant scheme helpline or ask someone to email us with details of your enquiry including your contact information, and we will call you back.

By telephone

We are currently running a reduced telephone support service from 9.30 - 12.30 and we thank you for patience. For scheme helpline numbers, please see our contact us page.

Please understand if you find call waiting times are longer than usual. We are constantly reviewing our helpline support hours during the crisis, while ensuring we follow government advice. 

How do I log in to the scheme registers?

Follow the steps in our scheme registers login guide.

3

Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (Domestic RHI)

I’m locked out of my scheme account. How do I reset my password?

Forgotten passwords

  1. Click the ‘forgotten password’ link on the myRHI sign-in page to reset your password.
  2. Enter your email address and submit.
  3. You will now get an email with a link to reset your password.

Please allow up to 10 minutes for password reset email to arrive in your inbox, then click the link to reset your password. Check your junk mail folder.

The password reset link will expire if:

  1. You request a new link
  2. 48 hours pass
  3. You click the link (if your computer has a security feature that scans your emails, this will count as the link being clicked.)

If the link expires, you’ll need to request a new one again through the MyRHI sign in page.

Locked out

If you are locked out of your account and these password reset steps don’t work, please follow the get in touch steps above.

Are scheme application deadlines being extended?

No. As the administrator, we cannot adjust deadlines that are set by scheme legislation (Regulation 17 (4) of the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive Regulations). Our role is to deliver the scheme in line with the current legislation.

The government department responsible for the regulations, policy and eligibility criteria is the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.

We are in close contact with them to look at if any changes are appropriate, and can be made, particularly where we recognise that legislation dictates specific timelines.

What are the deadlines?

You have 12 months to apply to the Domestic RHI scheme after your renewable technology is first commissioned, starting from the first commissioning date shown on the MCS certificate.

To ‘apply’ means you’ve submitted all relevant and required documentation and declarations. If your application is not submitted within this period, you will not be eligible under the scheme rules.

Are my scheme payments affected?

No. We continue to make scheme payments.

To view your payment schedule, log in to your myRHI account.

Your payment due date is the date when we will start calculating your payment.

It can take up to 30 working days for the payment to appear in your account.

I’ve not received my scheme payment. What do I do?

To view your payment schedule, log in to your myRHI account.

Your payment due date is the date when we will start calculating your payment.

It can take up to 30 working days for the payment to appear in your account.

Payments are made using BACS. These are subject to normal banking timescales, and are not a same-day transaction.

If you have not received your payment after this time, please follow the get in touch steps above.

Do I still need to submit meter readings? How do I do this?

Yes. Read your meters and submit your periodic data to us where you can follow the latest Government guidelines

To submit meter readings, log in to you myRHI account. Follow the steps in our guide How to submit a metering for payment reading.

Are there any changes to occupancy rules for installations?

Not currently. At this stage, it is too early to understand if occupancy rules (for example, for a holiday home) will change in the next 12 months.

Your obligations are confirmed in your annual declaration for the last 12 months.

4

Non-Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (Non-Domestic RHI)

I’m locked out of my scheme account. How do I reset my password?

Please follow the get in touch steps above for the Non-Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive and someone will call you back to reset your account.

  1. You will get two emails. Click the password reset link in the second email.
  2. Read the Terms & Conditions. If you agree, select ‘accept’ and ‘continue’.
  3. Set a new password. Click the help ? icon for tips on password criteria.
  4. Once the password is reset, you will see a message confirming your account is active. Select the ‘home’ option to go to your account.

The reset link will expire at midnight on the day of issue. If the link expires, you’ll need to request a new one again by following the same process.

Are my scheme payments affected?

No. We continue to make scheme payments.

Your payment due date is 8 weeks from the submission of correct periodic data.

It can take up to 40 working days for the payment to appear in your account.

Please ensure we have your latest bank account details. You can amend these details by following the steps in the Easy Guide to Account Changes.

I’ve not received my scheme payment. What do I do?

It can take up to 40 working days for the payment to appear in your account.

Payments are made using BACS. These are subject to normal banking timescales, and are not a same-day transaction.

If you have not received your payment after this time, please follow the get in touch steps above.

Do I still need to submit periodic data (e.g. meter readings)? How do I do this?

Please continue to submit data on the Non-Domestic RHI Register as usual.

If you have difficulties due to the pandemic, wait until it is safe to get the data needed for your periodic submission and then submit it as you would usually do. We will not consider this a late submission.

To submit periodic data you need to log in to the Non-Domestic RHI Register and select the Periodic Data tab at the top of the screen. Follow the steps in our Easy guide to periodic data submissions.

My periodic data is incomplete? What should I do?

Wait until it is safe to get the accurate and reliable data needed to make your periodic data submission. We will not consider this a late submission.

If you think you cannot get accurate and reliable data, please make a request to submit estimated data by contacting us at rhi.periodicdata@ofgem.gov.uk.

We will respond with information and instructions on the best way to make your periodic data submissions.

I’m having difficulties with fuel measurement and sampling (FMS). What should I do?

We are aware that because of the pandemic, some scheme participants may be unable to meet their agreed sampling regime outlined in the FMS procedures.

If you have difficulties make a request to submit estimated data by contacting us at rhi.periodicdata@ofgem.gov.uk.

We will respond with information and instructions on the best way to make your periodic data submissions.

Are there any changes to submission deadlines for annual sustainability reports?

No. Currently there are no changes to reporting deadlines for annual sustainability audits for the Non-Domestic RHI.

The deadlines are set by scheme legislation (Renewable Heat Incentive Regulations). The requirements of the reports are outlined in the Renewable Obligations Regulations and International Standard on Assurance Engagements (ISAE) 3000 (Revised).

What are the deadlines?

You must submit sustainability audit reports annually, within the 3 months that follow each anniversary of the tariff start date.

Scheme participants registered as producers of biomethane for injection, must submit sustainability audit reports on each anniversary of the date when the participant first registered as a producer of that biomethane.

How should auditors approach site visits?

Auditors must follow Government guidance for site visits. If a decision is made not to perform a site visit, a justification will need to be provided to us. The auditor should identify the potential risks of not doing a site visit though a risk assessment, and the reasonable steps needed to mitigate them.

Mitigation actions and assessments could include:

  • using previous site visits as a risk factor
  • relying on photographs from the operator as evidence of fuel/feedstock storage
  • meter readings and other aspects of the plant
  • video tours of the site
  • interviews by video conference.

The risk assessment and justification should be provided in the sustainability audit report to demonstrate that appropriate action has been taken.

5

Renewables Obligation

Are there any changes to submission deadlines for annual sustainability reports?

As the administrator, we cannot adjust the deadlines set by the scheme legislation (Renewables Obligation Order). Our role is to deliver the scheme within the rules.

Where the legislation allows discretion, we will use this in our decision-making and will continue to consider the individual details of cases.

The government department responsible for the Order and scheme policy is the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.

We are in close contact with Government to look at if any changes are appropriate, and can be made, particularly where we recognise that legislation dictates specific timelines.

What are the deadlines?

There are no changes. The deadlines to submit annual sustainability audits are:

  • Bioliquid fuels: 31 May immediately after the end of the obligation period it covers.
  • Solid biomass or biogas fuels: 30 June immediately after the end of the obligation period it covers.
  • Mixture of bioliquid and solid biomass and/or biogas fuels: 31 May immediately after the end of the obligation period it covers.

I can’t complete the annual declaration. What should I do?

Check the date

Annual declarations cannot be completed before the due date. You have 28 days from the due date to complete the declaration.

Check your web browser when using the Register

Use Google Chrome to access the Register to make your annual declaration. The Register is not currently compatible with mobile technologies, Apple devices or Internet Explorer.

If these checks don’t resolve the issue, please follow the get in touch steps above.

Do I still need to submit periodic data (e.g. meter readings)? How do I do this?

Yes. Please continue to submit data on the Renewables and CHP Register as usual.

If you have difficulties due to the pandemic, wait until it is safe to get the data needed for your periodic submission and then submit it as you would usually do. We will not consider this a late submission.

My periodic data is incomplete? What should I do?

Wait until it is safe to get the accurate and reliable data needed to make your periodic data submission. We will not consider this a late submission.

If you think you cannot get accurate and reliable data, please make a request to submit estimated data by contacting us at renewable.outputdata@ofgem.gov.uk.

We will respond with information and instructions on the best way to make your periodic data submissions.

I’m having difficulties with fuel measurement and sampling (FMS). What should I do?

We are aware that because of the pandemic, some generating stations may be unable to meet their agreed sampling regime outlined in the FMS procedures.

Where there are difficulties, the operator should make a request to submit estimated data by contacting us at renewable.outputdata@ofgem.gov.uk.

We will respond with information and instructions on the best way to make your periodic data submissions.

How should auditors approach site visits?

Auditors must follow Government guidance for site visits. If a decision is made not to perform a site visit, a justification will need to be provided to us. The auditor should identify the potential risks of not doing a site visit though a risk assessment, and the reasonable steps needed to mitigate them.

Mitigation actions and assessments could include:

  • using previous site visits as a risk factor
  • relying on photographs from the operator as evidence of fuel/feedstock storage
  • meter readings and other aspects of the plant
  • video tours of the site
  • interviews by video conference.

The risk assessment and justification should be provided in the sustainability audit report to demonstrate that appropriate action has been taken.

6

Feed-in Tariff

Are scheme application deadlines being extended?

The government has amended the Feed-in Tariffs Order to give deadline extensions for those most immediately affected by Coronavirus (COVID-19). The Feed-in Tariffs (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Order 2020 grants extensions to validity periods for all preliminary accreditations and pre-registrations for community energy solar photovoltaic installations expiring between 1 March and 30 September 2020.

The extension applies both to applications which have already expired since 1 March 2020 and to applications which will expire either on or before 30 September.

These applications receive a 6 month extension to their validity period, or an extension until 30 September, whichever is longer. Prospective generators should continue to submit applications for full accreditation:

  • for ROO-FIT applications, submit applications to the Renewables & CHP register and also send the relevant accreditation information to renewable.accreditations@ofgem.gov.uk. We also ask that prospective generators notify us via the same email address if their intended commissioning date has changed.
  • For community energy solar photovoltaic (PV) installations below 50kW, continue to submit applications to a FIT licensee.

In any effort to meet an extended deadline, we recommend that prospective generators comply with the central government Coronavirus guidance.

The Government recognises that validity periods for some preliminary accreditations for hydro-generating stations expire after 30 September 2020. These, therefore, are not entitled to an extension.

It is acknowledged that the current circumstances, combined with both seasonal restrictions and time-sensitive permit requirements for civil works, may impede efforts to commission installations on time. The government is keeping the situation under review. 

Where scheme legislation allows discretion, we will use this in our decision-making and will continue to consider the individual details of cases. However, some scheme deadlines remain inflexible including for preliminary accreditation and pre-registration. For this reason, we cannot grant extensions to validity periods other than those captured by the amendment Order.

The government department responsible for the Order and scheme policy is the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.

7

Energy Company Obligation

I am eligible for an ECO installation but am concerned about coronavirus, should I progress an installation?

It is essential that government guidelines for tradespeople and working in people’s home are followed. If the work is not considered ‘essential repairs or maintenance’ then it should not go ahead unless official government advice changes.

It is up to the installer to judge what is considered essential and to decide on if the work should take place. 

If the work goes ahead, government guidelines should be followed.

Handover of the work must be completed and alternative arrangements are being put in place where signatures are not possible.

Page history

  • Last updated: 4 May 2020
  • First published: 4 May 2020

Publications and updates

  • Published: 7th May 2020
  • Guidance
  • 1 Associated documents
We have compiled guidance for industry that adds to the latest Government advice on tradespeople and work carried out in people’s homes, in the context of ECO. This is accurate as at 7 May 2020.