Export payments alpha trial

Bulb is offering export payments because people should be paid for the energy they produce

We think everyone should be paid the market rate for the energy they export to the grid. Previously, people who were able to generate energy at home and export it to the grid were eligible for payments through the Feed-in Tariff (FIT) scheme. But the government will be closing this scheme to new applications on 1st April.

We want to provide an alternative. Our alpha trial for export payments is the first step towards this.

We're running a trial with 50 Bulb members

Right now, the service to offer export payments is in the ‘alpha phase’. That means we’re running a small trial for 50 members to help us work out all the kinks. It won't be perfect to start with but we’ll improve it quickly and start paying you for the energy you export right away.

You can sign up if:

  • You’re a Bulb member who pays for their energy by Direct Debit
  • You have a smart meter we can read
  • You’re happy to give us feedback on how a new scheme should work for you

If you meet those criteria, we’ll ask you a few more questions about your set-up to make sure you’re eligible for the trial.

We’ll pay the wholesale cost of energy on a monthly basis

Every month, the payments will be added to your Bulb Account as credit.

We’ll pay you the wholesale cost of energy for every kWh of electricity you export. And so you know you’re being paid the right amount, we’ll let you know how much energy you’ve exported during each half hour (or day) of a given month.

You can sign up for the trial if you’re already receiving FIT payments from us or another supplier

The guidance for the Feed-in Tariff scheme states that households receiving FIT payments cannot sell the energy they export to another entity. Members on our alpha trial are being paid for exporting kilowatt hours of energy, but we’re not actually buying the energy itself.

It’s a little complicated, but right now, tracking the electricity you export and then paying you for it relies on a flow of information through the energy industry. Because the FIT scheme closed sooner than anticipated, there hasn’t been enough time to coordinate this information flow across multiple organisations.

As an individual supplier, we’re working on setting up the industry links we need as fast as possible. But we’re not quite there yet. So right now, you can sign up for the trial, because while you’ll be receiving payments, Bulb won’t have bought this energy in the eyes of Elexon.

Elexon is the organisation responsible for working with every energy supplier. They balance the amount of energy available on the grid with the amount of energy people are using. They measure how much energy is delivered to the grid from different generators, how much of that we’ve bought as an energy supplier, and how much we’re supplying to our members.

In a nutshell: we’re receiving the data from your smart meter, but it’s not yet flowing on to Elexon. That means Elexon can’t record us as the buyer. This means we can pay you for the energy you generate but we won’t be recognised as a buyer of your energy in the industry.

Once data is flowing correctly into Elexon, and Bulb can be recognised by Elexon as a buyer of your energy, members will have a choice between:

  • Continuing to receive FIT export payments and stop receiving Bulb export payments

Or

  • Opting out of FIT export payments and continuing to receive Bulb export payments

We’re running this trial to create the best service for our members

In an ideal world, Bulb would offer export payments to every member who exports energy.

But because the export information flows aren’t yet in place, we can’t confirm we’re buying the energy your house is exporting. Right now, we’ll pay members on the trial ‘as if’ we were buying their energy, but we’re not buying or benefitting from the energy itself.

We’re willing to make this investment because it means that we get a better understanding of what our members need from us. We’ll be building a service for members on the trial to test and use. This means that we’ll be ready to scale up and offer this service to as many people as possible when the technical work with our industry partners is complete.

We’ll begin paying you from the day we can start storing your export data

When you sign up, the first thing we’ll do is check if you have a smart meter we can read. If you do, we’ll ask for some information about your renewable installation before we can confirm you’re part of the trial.

If you’re eligible, we’ll let you know, and we’ll pay you from the day we start storing your export data. We’re expecting this process to take less than 3 weeks, but as we’re in the very early stages of development it could take longer. We’ll keep you posted throughout the process.

An average household with a 4kw solar installation could earn £115 a year from export payments

You’ll be paid the same as the wholesale cost of energy for every kWh you export onto the grid.

 

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