UK: DECC High Court FIT appeal dismissed; will go to Supreme Court


While the news is positive, and means that FIT cuts cannot be applied retrospectively, the DECC has said it "disagrees" with the decision and will seek permission to appeal to the Supreme Court. As Edmund Robb, Barrister and Director at U.K.-based Prospect Law Ltd points out, this permission process could take months to conclude.

Robb is, however, confident that the Supreme Court will refuse the DECC’s second appeal. He adds, "… further down the line, DECC may well choose quietly to drop any application to appeal once the PR ‘heat’ has gone out of the FITS/PV story and the new payment rates have come into effect after 03/03/2012 …"

He goes on to say, "DECC’s strategy appears to be designed: (i) to save face amongst ministers and their advisors; and (ii) to further perpetuate a sense of uncertainty amongst consumers and the PV industry."

Along with Prospect Law, the Solar Trade Association (STA) and the Renewable Energy Agency (REA) have called for the DECC to move on from the decision. In a statement released, REA comments, "The REA is calling on all parties to now draw a line under the affair and allow the UK solar industry to get back to business. As long as DECC makes no further appeal, installers will at last be able to give customers prices with absolute certainty, and get back to business."

No backing down

It seems, however, that Chris Huhne, Energy and Climate Change Secretary, has no current intention of backing down. In a statement released, he commented, "We have already put before Parliament changes to the regulations that will bring a 21p rate into effect from April for solar pv installations from 3 March to help reduce the pressure on the budget and provide as much certainty as we can for consumers and industry.

"We want to maximize the number of installations that are possible within the available budget rather than use available money to pay a higher tariff to half the number of installations. Solar PV can have strong and vibrant future in UK and we want a lasting FITs scheme to support that future and jobs in the industry."

On January 19, the DECC introduced an alternative plan to lower the photovoltaic FIT with effect from March 3, 2012. The new rates proposed for the government range from 21 pence per kilowatt-hour (p/kWh) for installations smaller than four kilowatts, down to 8.5 pence for "stand alone" installations. These rates are down from 43.3 p/kWh to 8.5 p/kWh.

The move, dubbed "Plan B" by the REA, was welcomed by the solar industry.