Government breaks feed-in tariff promise for early adopters
Posted by Cathy Debenham on 16 September 2010 at 5:44 pm
Tories and LibDems both promised equal feed-in tariff rates to early adopters of renewable energy in the run up to the general election. Now the coalition government has broken that promise and we're calling on early adopters, and others that care about the shift to renewable energy, to let their MPs know how angry they are.
Both parties are on record saying they would pay higher rates of feed-in tariff to early adopters of solar panels, wind turbines and micro hydro schemes, but now they have gone back on their word.
West Dorset MP, Oliver Letwin, broke the bad news in an email to constituent Henry Lovegrove:
"As you will recall, after thinking through the issue, the Conservative party adopted the commitment before the election of enlarging the scope of the feed-in tariff to include pioneers who had installed their machinery before the start-date of the new scheme. As you will also remember, this did not find its way into our Programme for Government following our coalition agreement. I then - as I think you know - raised this issue with Chris Huhne, and he had very detailed discussions with his officials about the costs of administering a system in which new installations qualify for FITs but old ones don't - in the hope that he could persuade his officials and himself that he could establish a value-for-money case for extending the FITs to the pioneer installations on the grounds that there would be administrative savings to counter-balance the fact that money was being given to people who had already installed machines.
"Unfortunately, Chris was unable to establish that the administrative savings would be anything like large enough to counterbalance the additional costs - and I am afraid he has therefore concluded that this would not represent value for money."
Chris Huhne has since made a statement to the same effect in the House of Commons.
This is a huge blow for all the early adopters who signed up to our Equal Cashback for Microgenerators campaign in September last year. Many of them needed dedication and persistance to work their way through the difficulties and bureaucratic barriers and get their systems up and running. Their experience has fed into the development of the feed-in tariff, and their enthusiasm and advocacy is needed if solar panels and wind turbines are going to become commonplace in communities and homes. Yet again they have been let down, and many are financially worse off as a result of this 'financial incentive'.
This decision also has implications for the renewable heat incentive. Renewable heat is much more complicated than generating renewable electricity, and the enthusiasm and knowledge of the pioneers is going to be essential in encouraging the cultural change necessary for mass take up.
Henry Lovegrove is outraged: "It seems lib dems and tories are blaming each other, and the financial situation, for not changing the rules. In practice they are both reneging on promises and it has nothing to do with the financial situation. The effect of increasing the payment is a microscopic increase in electricity bills which is probably offset by administrative savings - there is no cost and probably an administrative saving to the exchequer.
"I have just extended my system and am now in the process of simultaneously registering a 1.6kWp extension for the feed-in tariff rate of 41.3p per unit, and the 2.4kWp original system for a feed-in tariff rate of 9p (both qualify for 3p exports) how ridiculous is that? It is comparable to sitting MPs returned to Parliament at the May general election getting a pay drop but new MPs getting a 400% pay rise plus £10,000 added to the value of their house.
"Non payment of the new feed-in tariff rates to pre July 2009 renewable energy installers is grossly unfair, and calls into question the credibility of any undertakings made by politicians in respect of supporting renewable energy technology installation. Loss of credibility will cause distrust, with the result that people are less likely to invest, and the objective of increasing installed renewable energy capacity will be undermined."
In a reply to Friends of the Earth before the election the Conservatives made this statement:
“There is one flaw with the FiT system which we will put right straightaway – and that is the unfair and counter-productive exclusion of projects installed before the scheme’s starting date. Within fair and reasonable conditions, we will allow capacity that was installed without public subsidy before the start of the feed-in tariff scheme to qualify for the tariffs. For those projects that were installed with public grants we will give owners the option of repaying the original grant in return for inclusion in the FiT scheme.”
See microgenerators.info for a statement from Charles Hendry along the same lines.
Previous coverage of this subject on YouGen includes:
By Cathy Debenham
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