Saturday, November 19, 2011

Welsh LibDems increase pressure on government over solar electricity

William Powell AM, Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development, is calling on the Westminster Government to reconsider its recent announcement of a reduction in Feed-in-Tariffs (FITs): the price that is paid to people who generate their own electricity and sell the surplus back to the National Grid.

Under the current FITs scheme, those who fit solar panels to existing properties can sell any surplus power back to the Grid for 43.3p/KWh. The Government is proposing to reduce this rate to 21p/KWh for installations registered and fitted after 12th December, 2011.

William Powell, National Assembly Member for Mid and West Wales, said:

“I fear that this proposed change could undermine the Government’s commitment to reducing our carbon footprint and the promotion of renewable energy. It could act as a major disincentive for families and those who run community facilities to fit solar panels, and seriously jeopardises the UK’s ability to reach its renewable energy targets.”

“I recognise that the FITs scheme has been a victim of its own success, with nearly three times as many applications received than anticipated, making the initial rates unsustainable in the medium to long term. However, I believe that by making this premature announcement, while the consultation on FITs reform is still underway, the UK Government is risking our long term renewable energy requirements for short term savings.”

“This proposal may threaten not only domestic green energy generation, but also the very green jobs agenda that we all want to promote. I have today written to Chris Huhne, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, to urge him to reconsider these proposals and continue with the consultation process in order to achieve a fairer alternative.”

On the wider UK front, the Local Government Association and the LGA Liberal Democrat Group are lobbying the Government over the proposed reduction in the Feed in Tariff rate for solar power on 12th December. While they appreciate the hard work done by Lib Dems in government over renewable energy, such as allowing local authorities to sell energy to the national grid (previous Conservative and Labour governments banned councils from doing this); they are calling on the government to protect community run schemes - including those run or planned by councils - by extending the cut-off date for these schemes to the end of the financial year. We accept that the tariff had to be cut but are concerned at the short notice given for the reduction.

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