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Solar rescue plan would raise bills by £1 per household

The solar industry has forward an emergency rescue plan for British solar that will cost just £1 on bills in 2019 as an alternative to the government’s proposed cuts to the Feed-in Tariff for the technology.

The Solar Trade Association (STA) hopes that its “£1 solar rescue plan” will work for both the solar industry and the government, allowing a viable solar market to continue while giving the government the cost-control guarantees it requires.

The suggestion garnered cross-party support from over 30 MPs from all parties yesterday at an action day outside the House of Commons attended by Sir David Amess MP (Con), Mims Davies MP (Con), Kevin Hollinrake MP (Con), Caroline Flint MP (Lab), Caroline Lucas MP (Green), Callum McCaig MP (SNP) and Tom Brake MP (Lib Dem).

The government consultation on the changes is set to close today (23 October), with a final decision expected later this year.

STA head of external affairs Leonie Greene said: “This emergency plan represents a compromise agreement which, given the current crisis, aims to find a way forward that is acceptable for both the government and the solar industry.

“The fact that this plan costs just £1 per household shows just how affordable it could be to adopt steady, gradual reductions in support for solar.

“Solar is close to grid parity, but it is not there yet. The government’s 98% cut in the overall budget for solar would derail the industry at the last hurdle and waste the millions of public investment in solar to date.”

The trade body is asking for a total of £95m over the next three years, a significant increase on the £7m the government is proposing over the same period.

The plan would add an extra £1 per year on average household energy bills from 2019 for new solar deployed over the next three years, which would generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 875,000 homes.

Earlier this week, utility company Good Energy published a report showing that solar and wind generation is helping to reduce wholesale electricity costs, with a reduction of £1.55bn on power prices in 2014 – thereby offsetting much of the cost of supporting the renewable technologies.

The proposed cuts have already dealt a heavy blow to investor confidence in the market, with three solar businesses – Mark Group, Climate Energy and Southern Solar – having already gone into administration over the last few weeks, making over 1,200 people across the country redundant. American firm Zep Solar has also pulled out of the British market.

The STA has estimated that up to 27,000 jobs in the solar sector and its supply chain could be at risk if the proposed reductions in tariffs go ahead.

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