“Plans to reduce financial incentives for solar electricity threaten ambitious plans in Brighton & Hove to generate solar power to help cut fuel poverty and reduce CO2 emissions.
The council has urged the government to rethink plans to reduce the Feed In Tariff – which determines payments for organisations that generate their own electricity and sell solar power back to the National Grid.
Brighton & Hove City Council warns that the proposed change of FIT rates will have a negative impact on development in one ofhe UK’s few growth sectors and curtail the opportunity to create more jobs. The proposals also put council plans to potentially roll out solar PV across 1,600 council house roofs and other public buildings at risk.
Changes in FIT were originally proposed to take place on 1 April 2012 but were brought forward to 12 December.
Previously, Solar PV panels that are installed have earned their owners 43 pence per kilowatt-hour generated plus 3p per kilowatt-hour when surplus power is exported back to the grid. A new category for multi-installation is proposed for after 31 March next year, which means that those registered for a multi-installation of Solar PV panels would see FIT rates cut by more than half.
Brighton & Hove City Council Cabinet Member for Finance Cllr Jason Kitcat said: “This short-sighted proposal could be a killer blow for the growing UK solar energy industry — not least in Brighton and Hove. Local firms installing solar panels had been looking to expand and take on staff but because of the government’s proposals they now expect to cut jobs.”
This year around 20 solar panels have been fitted to council homes in Brighton & Hove. Cllr Kitcat added: “We hope to install many more solar panels to council homes because solar power will help us support people on lower incomes by reducing their energy costs and keeping them low as well as helping residents live healthier lives. It will also cut the city’s carbon footprint and create jobs in the city.”
Read the full submission to the Department of Energy & Climate Change FIT consultation here”
Brighton & Hove City Council Leader Bill Randall said:
“The government plans, if true, are incredibly unhelpful and will seriously damage the business case for Brighton & Hove City Council’s ambitious solar energy programme on public buildings and council houses. A tariff reduction of this size threatens our plans to roll out eco-friendly energy that will help provide cheaper heating and electricity for the city’s most vulnerable at a time of rising energy costs.
“We were looking to this programme to partly offset government cuts to our budget, whilst also reducing our carbon footprint, tackling fuel poverty and creating local jobs.”
Cllr Randall was commenting following reports that the Department of Energy and Climate Change proposes to reduce the Feed in Tariff from the current 43p rate to 21p with the current higher rate only applicable for schemes registered prior to 8 December.
Below is the original press release for Brighton & Hove’s green energy plans.
Schools, offices and car parks will become mini electricity-generating stations under one of the biggest programmes of solar panel installation so far seen in Brighton & Hove.
The city council has surveyed its buildings looking for ideal sites for photovoltaic (PV) panels. Officials have drawn up a list of 40 non-residential properties. Twenty three are thought likely to be money-spinners with another 17 regarded as ‘possibles’.
They include schools, office buildings, leisure centres and multi-storey car parks.
In a separate move, the authority is also looking at using council homes and blocks of flats, potentially increasing the number of buildings generating power.
Among non-residential buildings thought to be most promising are Blatchington Mill School, Russell Road car park and the Prince Regent swimming complex.
Under the plan, which was approved by cabinet on June 9, the council would borrow £2.6m to finance the plan, repaid by earnings from the Feed-in Tariff (FIT) – payments for selling power back to the national grid.
Solar PV panels being installed today earn their owners 41 pence per kilowatt-hour when surplus power is sold. They also cut electricity bills.
If all forty sites were used, public coffers would be somewhere between £40,000 and £160,000 richer annually – depending on levels of sunshine. This would include cutting the council’s electricity bill by up to £23,000 a year.
Participating schools would be up to £40,000 better off, from savings to utility bills.
Installations will take place before April 1 2012 as the council is in a hurry to beat likely changes to the FIT payments next year.
Cabinet councillor for finance Jason Kitcat said: “I’m delighted that one of the new administration’s first decisions will be our city’s largest-ever roll out of solar panels. With this project the council will generate new funds to help offset government cuts to our budget, whilst also reducing our carbon footprint.
“We would encourage everyone in the city to consider whether they too could use renewables to save money and reduce emissions. Brighton & Hove can be a hub for green industries, and we plan to lead by example.”
All installations would be flat panels on suitable south-facing roofs, free from risks of vandalism or overshadowing.