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Tell Dave and Nick what you think of their energy plans

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 8 June 2010 at 9:22 am

The government is asking for our views on its programme for government. We've had a look at its proposed measures for energy and climate change, and our response is below. You can comment too - but get your skates on, they want to hear from us by Thursday 10 June.

Our first thought is of motherhood and apple pie. There are lots of fine sounding ideas, but they are broad sweeping statements. Without specifics it's difficult to form a clear opinion. Establishing a smart grid, creating a green investment bank and the intention to encourage community-owned renewable energy schemes where local people benefit from the power produced are all welcome ideas, but the devil will be in the detail.

However, there are some issues affecting how (and whether) people are able to reduce their energy use in the home that we feel strongly about. These are the comments we left on the Coalition's website:

1.    The sooner we have a pay as you save scheme the better. We need to know when it is likely to be in place, and how much people will be able to borrow. We prefer the LibDem’s promised £10k to the Tory figure of £6,500. The more difficult and expensive energy efficiency measures will not reach the mainstream without a good, affordable loan scheme

2.    They say: “We will establish a full system of feed-in tariffs”. What does this mean? Will microgeneration pioneers – ie those who installed prior to 15 July 2009 – be included at the full rate as promised by the Conservatives prior to the election? The current arrangement, which leaves many of them worse off than they were prior to the introduction of feed-in tariffs is a disgrace. Especially as they are the people whose stories can help ‘normalise’ renewable energy, and encourage others to invest. We call on the Conservatives to make good their promise that existing microgenerators will be eligible for the feed-in tariff at the same rates as those who install in the first year of feed-in tariffs.

3.    There is no mention of the Renewable Heat Incentive. The sudden closure of the Low Carbon Building Programme grant scheme, with no information about whether or not the government is planning to proceed with the RHI has left consumers and industry in a damaging limbo. It is vital that some information about the government’s intent is made available as soon as possible, with confirmation of timescales.

While we are keen to see the introduction of some form of financial support for the switch to renewable heat, we are also keen that it should:
a.    encourage less energy use overall
b.    make meeting energy efficency standards a pre-requisite
c.    skew the incentive to encourage take up of the technologies that give the biggest reduction in carbon dioxide emissions
d.    include people who had systems installed prior to July 2009, and
e.    include wood burning stoves where they have the capcity to replace a boiler, or have a back boiler (see our response to the consultation on the Renewable Heat Incentive).

Otherwise, especially in the domestic heat pump market, we believe there is considerable danger of misselling, and increased carbon emissions.

4.    We welcome the roll out of smart meters, but with the caveat that government must ensure that they are useful tools for consumers to manage and reduce their energy use, and not just tools for the energy supply industry to manage supply.

We'd love to hear what you think...

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