Rural boiler owners urged to respond to OFGEM letters

Farmers and rural business owners with RHI boilers that received a letter from the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (OFGEM) have been encouraged to respond without delay.

Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) rural enterprise chairman, John Watt said the letters stem from cases referred to OFGEM from the Department of the Economy (DfE).

“These letters are placing additional stress on farmers already under enormous pressure,” he said.

In some cases, tens and even hundreds of thousands of pounds in repayments are being demanded.

“The grounds for seeking to impose these sanctions are flimsy and unacceptable and so too is the time frame for repayments.

“These tactics are unfair and are a mental health risk to farmers who are unknowing victims of a botched scheme.”

‘Inaction is not an option’

A spokesperson for the union said OFGEM state claim allegations have been proven, but in many instances the union said, this is simply because participants had failed to present evidence to the contrary. OFGEM is now seeking repayments within 28 days.

The UFU said it is urging members unhappy with the OFGEM decision to consider seeking a statutory review – a mechanism that must be sought within 28 days of receiving the letter.

A statement from the union read: “Members should consider using a solicitor in drafting their request. Some farm insurance policies include business legal cover provided by the specialist legal insurance company, DAS Legal. These policies cover legal expenses where the probability of success is 51% or greater, but again they will need to check with their insurer.”

“The all-important message, however,” added Watt, “is to remember that 28-day limit to mount a defence. Inaction is not an option.”