Government loses solar subsidy appealHigher rate of subsidy until 3 March

25 January 2012

Solar panels

Feed in tariffs offer payments to homes producing their own electricity

Today saw a crucial ruling about plans to slash the amount of money paid to householders who produce their own energy.  

The case is about the feed-in tariff (FIT) which offers cash payments to households who produce their own electricity at home with solar photovoltaic (PV) panels.

The government lost its right to appeal against the court’s original decision that said the way it carried out the consultation into the proposed cuts was unlawful. However, it has now decided to appeal to the supreme court.

Higher payments still available

This ruling means, pending the supreme court decision, that the higher rate of the FIT of 43.3 p per kilowatt-hour, originally to be cut on 12 December 2011, will apply for longer – for solar panels installed and registered before 3 March 2012. But systems installed and registered after 3 March will get the new lower rate of 21 p/kWh.

However, Which? energy expert Sylvia Baron says: ‘If you haven’t signed a contract yet don’t rush to install solar panels to try to meet the 3 March deadline. Firstly we do not know what the supreme court will decide and if the 3 March will still stand. 

Secondly, buying solar panels is an expensive purchase. We would advise you get at least three quotes, take your time to compare and use our solar PV checklist.'

Our in-depth guide to the feed-in-tariff explains in more detail how the scheme works and how the proposed changes will impact solar panel installations.

Solar proposals 'unlawful'

Friends of the Earth and solar companies Solarcentury and HomeSun took the government to court because they said plans to cut the amount of money paid weren't given a fair consultation.

For the background to the case and what the arguments are see our news story about the solar panel court case.

Here at Which? we agree with the need to cut from FIT – because otherwise the costs of the scheme could have too great an impact on everyone else’s energy bills. We are, however, concerned about customers who have signed contracts with solar companies before the proposals were announced but didn't get their system installed before 12 December. This means they would lose out the higher FIT rate.

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