What’s the Feed-in Tariff saga costing and whose going to pay the ultimate price?
So, the saga over the solar Feed-in Tariff (FiT) cuts looks set to continue; a defiant Chris Huhne has said he intends to seek to appeal to the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land – despite four Judges telling him that what he plans to do is unlawful. Many from across the business community – not just the solar industry – are urging him to draw a line under the FiT fiasco and move one. There are dire warnings that a second appeal will destroy the solar industry. But the Secretary of State says not to act will prove even costlier for the consumer.
What’s it cost so far?
The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) says it’s still “finalizing the details of the cost” of the appeal it’s just lost, but to date, it estimates the Government has incurred costs of approximately £66,400.
“If the Supreme Court agrees to hear our case and then ultimately finds in our favour, we will expect to recover all or a substantial proportion of our costs,” a DECC spokesperson says.
But since Huhne’s lost a High Court case and an appeal already, there seems to be a fair chance he could lose again.
What happens if Huhne loses?
For one, the taxpayer’s bill will be considerably higher.
Secondly, he’s going to have a lot of egg on his face.
As one solar company owner dramatically puts it: “If the Government does not step back from the brink, it will have the destruction of the renewable energy industry on its hands and will ultimately pay a heavy price at the ballot box.”
But whose going to pay the ultimate price?
According to opponents of the Government, its actions are putting 29,000 jobs in the solar industry on the line and could see the sector reduced to a tenth of its current size.
But ministers say it’s necessary to fight on because losing will mean a heavy price for consumers, through their electricity bills.
“This could cost, if we’re not successful, consumers £1.5 billion. That is a big sum of money and I think it worth taking legal risk in order to protect the consumer,” Greg Barker, the minister of state for energy and climate change, told BBC Radio 4′s World at One programme this week.
These are big numbers indeed – but it’s worth remembering these are estimates and that for every impactful figure the Government comes up with to justify the cost of its action, there are others to question it. A recent report published by consultancy Cambridge Modelling examining the impact of solar FiT cuts found that they would delay grid parity for small solar installations and in turn extend the need for a FiT subsidy by approximately three years.
It would seem then, whichever way you look at it, the solar FiT saga is going to be heavy price we’re all going to have to pay for in the end.