Cameron criticised for green regs roll-back pledge

UK trade body the Solar Trade Association (STA) has spoken about about the damage being caused by the ‘reactionary’ nature of the political debate sparked by David Cameron’s comments about ‘rolling back green regulations.’

At Wednesday’s weekly Prime Minister’s questions, the leader of the Tory-Lib Dem coalition government pledged to reduce the ‘green levies’ added to household energy bills – as well as introducing more competition among energy companies – to lighten the burden on households.

The Prime Minister failed to give any further details under questioning from Labour leader Ed Milliband and Leonie Greene, spokesman for the STA told pv magazine there was frustration across the UK solar industry at the level of the political debate on the issue.

"To say they (green taxes) are going to be rolled back is pre-judging a review into green levies announced by the government recently," said Greene, "although, that said, there seems to be no consultation related to that review. It’s very frustrating for the industry, all this reactionary stuff, the level of the political debate is quite frustrating and doesn’t help investors.

Labour price freeze would spare renewables

"We are unsure about Labour’s (proposed) price freeze (on domestic energy bills), although they have explicitly stated it will not be implemented at the expense of renewables investment."

Greene said coalition government partners the Lib Dems had quickly distanced themselves from Cameron’s comments on green regulations.

"(Lib Dem leader) Nick Clegg said the Lib Dems were very annoyed by David Cameron’s statement," added Greene, "and they said nothing will be rolled back and he doesn’t understand what the Prime Minister means.

"The good thing to come out of this debate is that people in the UK – who consistently support solar in polls – are starting to understand that the so-called green levies applied to energy bills are not solely related to renewables obligations and FIT schemes.

Renewables support just one-third of energy bill levies

"Renewables-related levies are actually only about a third of the amount added to bills, the rest is taken up by programs like the ECO scheme to improve the energy efficiency of vulnerable households as well as the EU levy to finance its ETS (emissions trading scheme)."

The Prime Minister also came in for criticism from the Renewable Energy Association (REA) in the wake of Wednesday’s debate.

REA chief executive Dr Nina Skorupska said:"David Cameron must clarify which levies he is looking to roll back and how, or risk severely undermining investor confidence at a time when this country desperately needs investment in new low carbon capacity. Renewables policy makes up only 3% of average bills overall. It is the ever-increasing cost of gas which has been the main cause of rising bills in recent months and years."

In a statement to pv magazine which seems to relate more to competition among energy companies, the UK government’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), said: "This review will be led by OFGEM (the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets) in conjunction with the OFT (Office of Fair Trading) and drawing on the expertise of the new Competition and Markets Authority, when it comes into existence.

"The details will be developed by the regulators and we do not want to prejudice that, but the assessment may look at prices, profits, barriers to new entrants and how easy it is for customers to get the best deal. DECC will come forward with further details shortly."