Social landlords are set to be exempted from an extra 20 per cent cut to the feed-in tariff as part of a government overhaul of the solar subsidy system unveiled last week.
The move marks a victory for Inside Housing’s Green Light campaign for equal access to green subsidies for social landlords.
Under government proposals announced in October, social housing photovoltaic panel schemes were set to be hit with an especially heavy cut to the FIT - so that it fell from 43.3p to just 16.8p instead of the 21p rate for smaller scale schemes. It would have rendered the majority of schemes unviable and denied up to 38,000 social tenants annual savings of up to £200 for each household.
Green Light called on the coalition to reclassify social housing schemes because of their community benefits as it was unfair to penalise low-income tenants who pay for the FIT through their bills by not enabling them to receive the relief PV provides in tackling fuel poverty.
The campaign, which has received the backing of energy companies, landlords, retailers, tenants and senior MPs, scored a huge boost last Thursday when the government said it would consult to protect landlords from the additional 20 per cent cut for more than 25 installations.
A spokesperson from the Local Government Association said social housing schemes assist the poor and provide a community benefit and are not driven by profit unlike rent-a-roof schemes. He added: ‘It is encouraging that the Department of Energy and Climate Change appears to have recognised the need to differentiate between the two.’
However, the rest of the solar sector warned plans to reduce the FIT every six months from July by 10 per cent to match the falling price of PV would damage the market further.
Under the new proposals, the first reduction could see a 25 per cent fall in the FIT from the 1 April level of 21p/kWh on 1 July to 13.6p/kWh, ending at 7.7p on 8 April 2015.
Climate change minister Greg Barker promised to deliver 22GW of solar capacity by 2020.
Steve Drew, director of assets at Somerset-based Alliance Homes said the changes were workable for landlords that didn’t need to profit. ‘The sector is going to have to stop thinking in terms of financial benefits and start thinking in terms of social benefits. We couldn’t have asked for more.’
Nigel Banks, head of energy and sustainable solutions at contractor Keepmoat, was more downbeat: ‘If there is no movement on cost for supply chain then there won’t be much of a future for PV.’
Inside Housing is calling for the social housing sector to be given an improved offer on feed-in tariff payments through our Green Light campaign. See our campaign page for more, or sign our petition to express your support.