Five objections to the Feed in Tariff cuts

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1. The tariff cuts will make moving closer to a low-carbon future less possible. Seriously reducing support for the industry will have a marked effect; Gaynor Hartnell, chief executive of the Renewable Energy Association, was quoted in the Guardian as saying that “the renewables industry is not really confident at all. These changes undermine confidence across all energy-related investments…we need to be confident that the government will honour their commitments and not chop and change.” Furthermore, former MP Alan Simpson was quoted in Business Green as saying that the cuts were “economically illiterate and ethically fraudulent.”

2.  The cuts will seriously damage a burgeoning industry: since April 2010, there have been 100,000 solar installations, 22,000 jobs, and 4000 new businesses. Cutting support by 50% will dramatically affect the amount of installations. Quoted last week in the Guardian, Howard Johns, from the Cut Don’t Kill campaign said that “wiping out 4000 companies…would be an appalling waste of economic potential. Such deep cuts would kill the UK solar industry stone dead.” Elaine Moore, a journalist for the Financial Times, said that a 50% cut would “dramatically decrease the incentive for consumers to install panels on their home.”

3. The cuts will particularly affect local authority solar programmes. The BBC reported Councillor Paul Gittings, from Reading, saying that the rug had been “pulled from under the feet” of a scheme planned to help 40 local shoals access free electricity, as well as compromising plans to install solar on community buildings.

4.  The cuts will make renewables less available to lower income families. The tariff decrease, which will increase the amount of time it takes to pay off the panels, will make installing solar a greater financial burden. The cuts will also prevent solar from being a solution to fuel poverty, solar installation companies such as HomeSun will not be able to instal panels for free in exchange for the tariff. Furthermore, the extra qualification that homes meet a ‘C’ energy rating standard will be hard to meet for many, adding extra expense; the Guardian reported last week that the work would cost above £5000. Homes above a ‘C’ energy rating are not in the majority, as 86% of homes in the UK fall below the rating. Shadow energy minister Caroline Flint was quoted as saying that “the Government is going to kill off salad power as a popular energy saving measure available to the many and make it the preserve of a wealthy few.”

5.  People who have already paid deposits for their installations may not be able to complete them before December, making them ineligible for the current tariff. Consumer groups have voiced concern over this decision, and Friends of the Earth are threatening legal action over the cut off point. Craig Bennett from FoE was quoted in the Guardian as saying that “the government is breaking the law with its plans to fast-track a solar industry kill-off – as well as jeopardising thousands of jobs and countless clean energy projects around the country.”