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Alex Sobel Demands Protection of Renewables as Feed-In Tarriffs are set to be Scrapped

Alex Sobel MP has lambasted the Government’s plan to scrap Feed-In Tarriffs (FiT).

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy are consulting on the plan to close the scheme in full to new applications after 31st March 2019.

In his consultation response, Mr Sobel cited the take up and cost-effective nature of the scheme as well as the popular support for carbon reduction.

Feed-In Tarriffs are payments that are made to members of the public for the energy they generate from renewables such as solar panels.

Mr Sobel, who is the Member of Parliament for Leeds North West, currently sits on the Environmental Audit Committee in Parliament. Before his election last May, he was the lead member for climate change in Leeds City Council. There, he helped set up the ‘White Rose’ energy scheme as well as a scheme, financed by FiT, that installed 1003 solar systems in council homes across the city, providing tenants with free use of electricity generated during the day.

In his consultation response Mr Sobel outlined that by 2015, the scheme had supported 640,000 domestic renewable installations. This is over 190,000 more than the original projections.

He said:

“A scheme that is proving to be successful in this area should be maintained in line with the UK Government’s decarbonisation agenda. Only by maintaining schemes that encourage individual participation in the UK’s decarbonisation agenda can we hope to foster behavioural change in energy use.”

The Government’s plan to reduce the scheme is driven by cost. There has also been criticism of its impact on energy bills. Mr Sobel argued however, that there are better ways to reduce bills and to assess the cost effectiveness of the scheme. He said

Energy bills are too high. I also accept that the FiT scheme, in its current form, contributes to consumer energy bills. Cutting programmes that contribute to carbon reduction is not a sustainable long-term solution. Cost benefit analysis that does not consider the benefits of public engagement in carbon reduction is fundamentally flawed.

Relying on new nuclear infrastructure for carbon reduction has high associated risk. A statement backed up by the Committee on Climate Change report .

Other measures for reducing bills must be prioritised. These could include investing in local authority led schemes such as Leeds City Council’s White Rose Energy which reduced bills by taking customers off pre-payment, legislating to enforce ‘Big Six’ energy companies to pass on savings to the consumer or to break up their market share to allow for locally owned energy systems and increasing energy efficiency by tightening insulation standards across divergent housing tenures”

He also pointed out the popular support for carbon reduction measures. “85% of people think renewable energy should currently receive subsidies. 68% of people want to see coal power replaced with solar and wind energy. 79% believe the Government should do more to help communities generate their own energy, with profits staying in the area.”

Mr Sobel also criticised the scrapping of the export tariff, which would stop the payments given to customers on for producing energy for the grid.

He said: “Scrapping the export tariff would effectively mean that individual producers of energy will be providing the grid with electricity for free. This is neither fair nor reasonable”.

He finished the consultation by noting the UKERC statement which said

“The transition to a low carbon energy system is a social and technical challenge that will not be achieved without the meaningful engagement of wider society. This should be acknowledged and properly supported by policy makers.”


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