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PM David Cameron Reneges on Solar Panel Promise

By Rob Hull on October 12, 2010

Prior to the UK General Election in May, Tory hopeful David Cameron promised to make his government the “greenest ever”; after finding his feet in office, however, the Prime Minister sought to target public spending rather than invest heavily in the environmental sector. This week, reports have emerged that Mr Cameron has broken a pre-election promise to reward early adopters of solar photovoltaic panels and other domestic green energy initiatives with the higher Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) rates.

In a letter addressed to one of his Witney constituents in March, Mr Cameron wrote: “I agree with you that the [Labour] Government’s current proposals for feed-in-tariffs will unfairly penalise the very people who were the early investors in local energy. That is why under a Conservative Government, any micro-generation technologies that have already been installed… will be eligible for the new higher tariffs once they commence”.

Last month, the energy secretary, Chris Huhne, advised that the issue of rewarding early adopters of solar power as promised by Mr Cameron was considered on a “value-for-money basis” and ruled out accordingly.

The Feed-in Tariff was introduced under the previous Labour Government to encourage local investment and uptake in domestic green renewable energy, most notably in the form of solar panels. Under the Feed-in Tariff, homeowners who install solar panels on their properties are guaranteed a fixed tariff – 41.3p per unit of electricity – for energy supplied to the Grid, however, owners of solar panels installed before the 15th July 2009 would only be eligible to receive 9p per unit.

Julie Davenport, the Chief Executive of renewable energy firm, Good Energy, suggested that Mr Cameron and his Government are failing in their promise to create a “big society”.

Ms Davenport said: “Good Energy is extremely disappointed that the Government has not met its own pre-election promise to support early adopters of renewable technologies. We urge David Cameron to ensure that there is no further reduction to the feed-in tariffs in any way”.

Ms Davenport’s comments refer in part to speculation that the cost-cutting coalition Government is preparing to cut the 41.3p feed-in tariff rate on the 20th October.