From the TUC

FIT fight taken to PM

04 Nov 2011, by in Environment

51 organisations, including social landlords across the UK responsible for some 320,000 homes, as well MPs, trade bodies, unions, and green and community organisations have now co-signed a letter to the PM calling on him to re-think cuts in support for solar power. The feed in tariff installations “are one of the very few things that social landlords can do to support their tenants at a time of great economic uncertainty,” the signatories say. The Government’s latest consultation on the new tariffs closes on 23 December, but the new rates effectively kick in on 12 December!

The scheme has generated over 22,000 jobs and 100,000 installations in a year. They are now at risk. Bizarrely, the Government’s impact assessment published with the consultation takes no account of the effects on jobs and skills of the tariff cuts – job cuts equating to foregone tax, VAT and other revenues to the Treasury.Yet developers have already warned DECC that the proposed cuts will render new projects financially unviable. For the vast majority of social landlords, the risks of projects will be too big and the return on investment too small.

Those supporting the letter (1 November) call on the PM to ask his Chancellor:

“to revisit the spending constraints his Department has placed on a scheme which makes no contribution to reducing the Government deficit and is funded by energy companies, and to give special consideration to the contribution it has made to the UK’s social housing sector.”

In the social housing sector, the scheme has proven the huge potential of renewable energy to help alleviate fuel poverty in some of the country’s poorest households, cutting bills and promoting energy efficiency. The scheme has attracted substantial investment from social landlords, who have been quick to identify these benefits for their tenants. As well as reducing their tenants’ energy bills, the FIT generates an income which can be re-invested back into their communities with additional energy-saving measures for the benefit of all homes.

Following pressure from the Treasury, DECC has now published details of proposed changes to the FIT scheme. These changes are based on what DECC has publicly acknowledged as outdated modelling. Whilst we fully support tariff reductions in line with falling technology costs for solar power installations in particular, the level of cuts proposed are far greater than the reductions in the cost of that technology since the scheme was launched some 18 months ago.