Angus MacDonald MSP condemns speed of cuts to Feed In Tariffs
Monday, 07 November 2011 10:25
UK Government lets Falkirk East residents and businesses down
The speed of the UK Government's proposed cuts to feed in tariffs (FITs) for solar panels will be a body blow to a sector in which many businesses have invested heavily in the last few years, says SNP Member of the Scottish Parliament’s Energy Committee, Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald.
The proposed cut will more than halve the amount of money owners of solar panels get for supplying electricity to the grid - from 43.3p per kilowatt hour to 21p per kilowatt hour.
And the speed of the changes - which will be implemented in just six weeks - means businesses will have no time to make plans to deal with the change, which will affect projects already on their order books.
The industry is growing rapidly in Scotland, with over 1,300 installations in September alone.
The cuts will have a significant impact on social housing projects underway in Scotland which have been designed to provide low-income tenants with free electricity to help tackle fuel poverty. For example, Glasgow Housing Association has signed a contract for installations on 500 homes and Dundee City Council has started a tender process for 1,000 homes. These projects could be stopped in their tracks.
Expressing his concerns about changes to the Feed In Tariff (FIT), Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald said:
"Cutting the feed in tariff so sharply and with so little warning will have a devastating impact on families and businesses across Falkirk district.
"This change will be a body blow both to the blossoming Scottish solar industry, and to hundreds households across Falkirk district who will lose their chance to escape from fuel poverty.
"Companies with full order books, who have invested in recruiting and training new staff, including many I have visited in the past few months, will find the carpet pulled from under them, as the numbers on which they have based their business plans are changed, suddenly and without warning.
"Families in social housing who were expecting to be able to live without dreading their electricity bill will be deeply affected by this change.
"I urge Chris Huhne to reconsider both the speed of these cuts and how he will prevent those in most need being hit the most."
David Balfour, a Grangemouth businessman and constituent of Angus MacDonald’s recently placed a substantial order for solar panels for his home, however he is astonished by the action taken by the UK Government.
Speaking today David Balfour said:
“As someone who has a keen interest in renewable energy and wants to help the environment as well as reduce ever increasing energy bills, I have used savings and borrowed money to purchase a solar system which has not yet been installed. Now it looks likely that I will not get the system installed in time or the returns I had expected therefore I feel as if I have just thrown my savings away.
“As the small business I own is currently struggling because of the economic downturn and the actions of the previous UK Government, this was also going to be a pilot project to help me diversify into the renewable sector but unfortunately, due to the actions of the current UK Government, diversification is now not feasible.
“I am sure there will be many other people trying to do the right thing by helping the economy and the environment, who will have invested recently in the solar industry only to run out of time to get their systems installed.
“This sudden unjust decision by the UK Government has sucked the life out of the renewable energy sector, especially small businesses and also the public who were trying to reduce their energy bills. The FIT was due to be reviewed and probably reduced at the end of March next year. It is disappointing that the cut has been so severe, but a cut was expected and there was time to plan for this but moving the date forward with no prior warning is underhanded.
I thought the Conservative/LibDem Government were supposed to be helping small business and trying to grow the economy but clearly this is not the case.”
A long established Falkirk business owner, Derek McAvoy of McAvoy Installations Limited also added,
“We, as a company have just invested time and money in training to enable us to get MCS Certification so that we can install and certify solar panel installations. It now seems that we have wasted our investment as orders are being cancelled already because of the sudden changes by the UK Government.”