Lawyers acting on behalf of a member of the Renewable Energy Assurance Scheme (REAL) have lodged a petition in the High Court against the assurance scheme, claiming it has unfairly targeted companies and acted against the interests of the renewable energy industry.
, acting on behalf of Crystal Windows and Doors
, is also taking legal action against REAL
parent company the Renewable Energy Association
(REA), over claims of financial and administrative incompetence.
REAL, which was recently chosen
by the Government to help oversee registrations of all assessors, installers and providers and to monitor compliance with the Green Deal Code of Practice, is being challenged over whether it is acting beyond its powers and own code of conduct. The assurance scheme has ordered an audit of South East-based Crystal Windows and Doors, a home improvement firm that last year diversified into solar panel installations.
The petition lodged at the High Court claims that by interfering in the affairs of companies, REAL is not acting "fairly, reasonably or impartially". It also accuses it of bias against certain industry sectors and by so doing not adhering to its own code and set of bye-laws.
"In so doing, [REAL] have failed to act in the interests of the renewable energy industry sector or of the consumer," the court documents read.
A spokesperson for Crystal said the company felt it was being discriminated against by REAL because it was not in the renewable energy "club".
posted on the REAL website by Virginia Graham, ceo of REAL, entitled 'Our battle with the cowboys’ refers to "unscrupulous companies" that were once in the double-glazing business now "trying to make their mark in solar PV […] Sadly, their shenanigans run the risk of ruining the reputation of our industry, so in the REAL office a great deal of time is spent monitoring these companies."
REAL has reportedly been challenged over the language it is publicly using to describe double-glazing firms by the Glass and Glazing Federation.
Competence called into question
The court documents go on to claim the REA has failed to exhibit a "necessary or basic level of competence" with regards to the administration of the REAL scheme or the administration of its own affairs, including its finances.
And they question whether the REA and REAL were last year both operating while insolvent.
"There has been growing concern about REAL's competence and fairness for some time," said one senior member of the legal team at Prospect Law.
"This is about one company taking High Court action to try to sort these issues out and to stand up for what is right for the renewable energy industry."
John Oddi, managing director of Crystal Windows and Doors, added: "Simply, we want the renewable
energy industry to be overseen and represented by a fair and 'fit for purpose’ organisation. The green economy is far too important for businesses and consumers alike for there to be fundamental issues at the top.
"There are 400 of us here at Crystal and we’re very proud of our business and our diversification into solar power. Companies like ours should be supported, not hindered, whilst we grow and create much needed green jobs."
Responding to the claims, Gaynor Hartnell chief executive of the REA denied the association had every traded while insolvent and said management of both organisations finances was "all above board".
She added that the REAL was "very well regarded and would not operate out of its remit".
She told GreenWise: "We take seriously any claims saying we’ve been trading while insolvent. REA finances are all in the public domain and the two [REA and REAL] are not connected [financially] in any way."
She went on to say: "The Renewable Energy Assurance is the gatekeeper of proper sales practices in the industry and so it has its work cut out in terms of policing the industry. [In this case] a company that is particularly exercised is casting its net as widely as it can to find anything it can to cast doubt on REAL or REA."
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