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YouGen press release

Feed-in tariff is a welcome boost for renewable energy - but leaves microgeneration pioneers angry

Posted on 3 February 2010 at 12:53 pm

YouGen welcomes the Feed-in Tariff (called the Clean Energy Cashback), but regrets that many early adopters will be worse off as a result of it.

The new system announced by DECC on Monday, will see new investors in microgeneration getting up to 41.3p per kWh of electricity they generate for up to 25 years. By comparison, people who installed their system before the July this year will get just 9p per kWh despite considerable lobbying for more during the consultation process. Both will get an additional 3p per unit of electricity exported to the national grid.

YouGen ran a campaign last year to raise awareness among existing microgenerators of the proposals and to encourage them to respond to the consultation. People who didn’t want to respond themselves could sign a petition which YouGen submitted to DECC with its response.

“I think this is short-sighted penny pinching,” said Cathy Debenham, founder of YouGen. “The numbers of people who already have small wind and solar installations is small – so the costs of including them in the main scheme may not be greatly different from the costs of additional bureaucracy to run two schemes.

"More importantly, they are the people we need as advocates if renewable energy is to take off. By telling their stories and helping people understand how it all works, they can help to normalise the market. Many people who were encouraged to go ahead by the promise of the feed-in tariff are now disappointed and angry that they aren’t benefitting from it.”

Comments received from existing microgenerators include:

"Our renewable energy systems were all commissioned around February 2009. The opinion then was that ROCs were not suitable for  small installations and that FITs would follow in April 2010. We decided not to register for ROCs, losing out on those benefits, but to wait  just over a year for FITs to commence based on the [just published Energy] Bill and debate re ROCs versus FITs.  I find it very unjust, to say the least, that pioneers  such as ourselves should be totally excluded from the FIT system and also  from the Renewable Heat Incentive." - Dave Clough

“Disappointing is certainly the word, but very understated!  I feel that we, the existing microgenerators, have been poorly treated” – Keith Sinfield

“They are determined not to reward us for our initiative” – Ruth Perrett

Because the rates energy companies previously offered microgenerators were provided “on a commercial basis”, the government has declined to match them. The 9p rate is meant to be equivalent to the payments previously received under the Renewables Obligation. With a new mandatory minimum rate set for the generation and export tariffs it remains to be seen whether energy companies will continue to compete for microgeneration customers by offering premium prices.

“The majority of the early adopters didn't install their microgeneration systems to make money,” added Cathy Debenham, “although some of the most recent ones were encouraged by the promise of a feed-in tariff. However, they are shocked at the disparity in reward, and some are so angry that they are threatening to decommission their system, which is surely not the response the government wants.”

For more information, or to arrange interviews with existing microgenerators or installers, contact Cathy Debenham, t: 01395 597879, m: 07786 440129.

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