Feed In Tariffs – reply to Eleanor Laing MP

A few weeks ago I participated in a Friends Of The Earth campaign to email MPs about the proposed cuts to Feed In Tariffs (the money people get back for generating their own solar electricity.)

This is my reply to Eleanor Laing’s reply:

Dear Eleanor Laing MP,

Thank you for your reply of 11th November. I apologise for my delay responding.

I believe that your reply is misleading around the relative cost of FITs and the benefits they bring. I’d like to address three of your specific points.

‘The Government is committed to meeting 15 per cent of the UK’s energy demands from renewable resources by 2020’

Energy Secretary Amber Rudd herself has admitted that the government doesn’t currently have the policies to meet this target. Her suggestions to address this include:

  • buying in more green energy, which doesn’t help our energy independence
  • the use of biofuels, which bring their own problems
  • buying green ‘credits’, which are just a costly means of displacing responsibility.

None of them help build Britain’s renewable energy industry.

‘As you are aware, the Government is consulting on proposals designed to relieve the pressure on energy customers from rising costs, improve value for their money and keep the costs of renewable energy policies sustainable.’

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates that fossil fuel subsidies cost each of us £400 each year.[1] Renewable energy subsidies amount to just £45 of the average £1,369 dual energy bill. Only £9 of that is from FITs. In this context I suggest that the costs of renewable subsidies are very sustainable. Fossil fuel subsidies are a much greater issue.

On a wider point: as more solar panels are installed, and as technology improves, the cost of installing solar continues to reduce. FITs are one way of giving an incentive to install solar panels and, ultimately, drive down the price for everybody.

‘It also suggests capping spending on new FITs at £75-100 million by 2018-19, so as to avoid the need to stop providing tariffs for new generation projects entirely. Existing facilities would not be affected by these changes.’

Given the relatively low cost of Feed In Tariffs I don’t understand the desire to reduce them, let alone stop them entirely. By maintaining FITs the Government is:

  • supporting local businesses and tradespeople through installation and maintenance
  • helping build community cohesion through Community Renewable Energy schemes
  • reducing domestic energy users’ reliance on the big six energy companies.

FITs have also been pivotal in encouraging educational establishment and local government buildings into installing solar. Thousands of jobs in the solar industry are already threatened as businesses scale down or close altogether. It’s estimated that up to 45,000 social homes might lose schemes which would provide employment, support local economies and, crucially for residents, cut anuual fuel bills by up to £200.[2]

All of the above focuses on the financial effects of cutting FITs – I haven’t gone into the environmental impact of reducing FITs and, by extension, solar energy uptake as they are very well known and understood.

I ask you, as my MP, to do all that you can to oppose the reduction in FITs.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I’d appreciate your thoughts.

Yours sincerely,
David Plummer.

[1] Engineering and Technology Magazine, 05/08/2015: http://eandt.theiet.org/news/2015/aug/fossil-fuel-subsidies.cfm
[2] The Guardian, 18/11/2015: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/nov/18/thousands-social-tenants-lose-out-solar-subsidies-cuts-go-ahead