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Energy Secretary snubs London’s solar energy industry

The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change has been accused of snubbing London’s solar energy industry after refusing to meet with London Assembly Members to discuss cuts to feed-in tariffs for solar energy. Feed-in tariffs, which see homeowners reimbursed if solar energy generated from their property is fed into the national grid, have been cut by 64%. Labour London Assembly Member, Murad Qureshi AM, said the government’s cuts could undermine any progress towards “making London a global centre for new renewable energy generation”.

Last year the government proposed reducing the feed-in tariff for domestic solar energy from 12.4 pence to 1.6 pence, an 87% reduction in the amount paid to homeowners for the solar energy contributions. Following a public consultation, the government revised their decision, proposing to cut the feed-in tariff to 4.39 pence, a cut of 64%.

Though less punitive, there are concerns that cutting the tariff by 64% could threaten the capital’s solar energy industry by dramatically reducing demand. Approximately 2,740 people are currently employed in the manufacturing, installation and maintenance of solar panels in London. Mr Qureshi said any reduction in demand would risk the government “looking determined to kill off renewables in the capital.”

The Chair of the London Assembly wrote to the Energy Secretary, Amber Rudd, on behalf of Assembly Members last November requesting a meeting to discuss the impact of the proposed changes on London’s solar industry. Ms Rudd responded in January to say she was unable to meet due to “diary commitments”.

Changes to the feed-in tariff come into force on 8th February.

Labour London Assembly Environment Spokesperson, Murad Qureshi AM, said:

“The Secretary of State’s refusal to meet with Assembly Members comes as a huge snub to nearly 3,000 solar energy workers in London, whose industry is under threat. The government risks looking determined to kill off renewables in the capital.

“Solar energy has a hugely important role to play in London’s future. This is about ensuring our capital’s environment is clean and fit for our children and grandchildren to live in. We should be going all out to be the solar capital of Europe.

“Government cuts to the feed-in tariff threaten to undermine any progress we’ve made to making London a global centre for new renewable energy generation. It is incredibly important that the Government understand the full impact their cuts to feed-in tariffs are having on this fledgling industry. As it stands they appear hell bent on sucking the sunshine out of domestic and community energy schemes.”

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