Solar panel plans scrapped after energy tariffs cut

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HUNDREDS of tenants have lost the chance of having £190 cheaper annual fuel bills after a housing association scrapped plans to instal solar panels.

AmicusHorizon took the decision after the Government cut its energy tariffs by 50 per cent.

The company was planning to erect panels on 1,439 homes in Hastings.

But the Government reduced its payment rate from 43.3p per kilowatt to 21p/kWh.

On Wednesday Friends of the Earth and two solar firms won a legal challenge against the Government.

They successfully argued the Government was wrong to cut short its consultation period on new tariffs.

Under the ‘feed-in tariffs’ programme, householders in Britain with solar panels are paid for the electricity they generate.

The new lower tariff had been expected to come into effect from April 1.

But in October the Government said it would be paid to anyone who installed their solar panels after December 12.

A statutory consultation period was due to end today (Friday) but Energy Secretary Chris Huhne made his decision two weeks early.

The move angered Hollington ward councillor Emily Westley who put forward a motion at this month’s full council meeting to write to Mr Huhne.

The motion, to be sent to Mr Huhne, George Osborne and Friends of the Earth, read: “This council believes that the time frame is unfair to hundreds of businesses in the industry that will not now be able to complete installation of the solar equipment in the time available.

“It is concerned that this measure will trigger a significant number of redundancies in the remaining weeks of this year.”

Cllr Westley said: “There are householders and businesses who will be affected by this.

“Many people might cancel their orders now so that has a knock on effect to jobs.

“We have businesses in the town who make parts for solar panels.

“We also have tenants who need affordable energy and this was a good opportunity to provide that”

Friends of the Earth executive director Andy Atkins said: “These botched and illegal plans have cast a huge shadow over the solar industry, jeopardising thousands of jobs.

“Ministers must now come up with a sensible plan that protects the UK’s solar industry.”

AmicusHorizon spokesman, Stephen Gillett, said: “Our project would have reduced household bills by £190 a year.

“This decision will have a massive impact on our residents and we’re developing other initiatives to help reduce fuel bills and carbon emissions.

“Following the outcome of the appeal we’ll re-assess the viability of our solar panel project and will look for other ways for residents to make energy savings.”