Energy Saving Trust “let’s the cat out the bag” early on Feed-in Tariff plans

Posted by on Oct 28, 2011 in Featured | 0 comments

Energy Saving Trust “let’s the cat out the bag” early on Feed-in Tariff plans

For weeks now there have been rumours circulating within the solar industry that the government were considering slashing the current feed in tariff rates for PV solar drastically, as, in their opinion, they had become too generous.

The rumour and speculation came to a head yesterday (Thursday the 27th of October) when an article appeared on Martin Lewis’ “moneysavingsexpert” website, stating that he too had heard a strong rumour that the feed in tariff was to be cut from 43.3 pence to 28 pence and that an announcement was to be made today; Friday the 28th of October. I just happened to be in London yesterday attending the annual conference of the Energy Efficiency Partnership for Homes (EEPH) and the keynote speaker was none other than Chris Huhne himself. After his speech he invited questions from the audience. I seized this chance to ask him categorically whether he would confirm or deny these rumours. In true politician style, he gave me a long winded answer, which seemed to imply that yes he thought it was too generous and yes an announcement was imminent.

Today, Friday, the Energy Saving Trust has been forced to issue a statement after details of Government plans to cut the Feed-in Tariff programme were mistakenly posted on its website. The document, which revealed details of a cut in cash subsidies for solar PV generation from 43p/kWh to 21p/kWh, was uploaded on the organisation’s website this morning. The plans, which also included a surprise move to bring forward the changes to December 8, were scheduled to be announced to Parliament on Monday. However, by this afternoon the Energy Saving Trust had removed the document and issued a statement saying the leaked document was made available following a “technical error”. The statement added:

We’ve been working on a draft consumer guidance document in relation to the Fast Track Review of Feed in Tariffs for Solar PV to pre-empt the Government consultation which is expected next week.

Preparing advice on a potential announcement was the responsible thing to do as the leading consumer advice body in this area. Unfortunately, due to a technical error this document was made available for search.

This is a work in progress document which is no longer on our web site and cannot be relied upon as the Government consultation has yet to be announced. Then and only then will we know the precise contents.

We cannot confirm anything within our fact sheet until then.

This in turn has prompted a statement from the Dept of Energy and Climate Change (DECC). Their spokesman said:

We’ll be publishing a full consultation on changes to the solar PV tariff changes in parliament on Monday. The Energy Saving Trust inadvertently published a draft of documentation on its website that was neither final nor accurate.

If these changes do indeed get parliament approval on Monday, it will kill the demand of domestic PV solar stone dead, with immediate effect. Most companies, ourselves included, are working to a 4 or 5 week lead time (the time between a customer placing an order and us doing the install). The solar industry will be furious but I’m equally sure that the general public will be too. To have this foisted upon them, without consultation or having an opportunity to react is grossly unfair. We are receiving more and more new solar enquiries every week, but now all these people will be denied the opportunity to invest in PV solar as they wanted to AND as the government had previously been encouraging them too.

If this cut goes ahead it will be the third government review into solar subsidies this year and this from a political party whose leader, before the last election was quoted as saying that, if elected, they would become the “greenest government ever”. With public trust in UK politicians at an all time low and the British economy faced with the very serious possibility of a double dip recession; for the Tories to be tinkering with the only sector of our economy which is currently booming is, in my opinion, completely BONKERS.

Jim Gillespie
National Sales & Marketing Director
1st 4 Solar

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