October 13, 2008
MPs Call for Action on Renewable Energy
By SARAH ARNOTT
Business in briefENERGY A House of Commons motion today will put small-scale renewable energy back on the political agenda by calling for government support measures to drive change. The "feed-in" tariff scheme proposed by a cross-party group of peers as an amendment to the Energy Bill would act as an incentive for households and organisations to use solar panels and wind turbines to generate their own electricity, by setting a price for both the energy they use and any excess fed back into the national grid. The payments are to be made by the local electricity supplier.
Today's early-day motion has the support of 70 MPs and some 35 business and environmental groups, including the British Retail Consortium, the Home Builders' Federation and the Trades Union Congress. It is being tabled by Labour MP Alan Simpson, whose earlier campaign on the issue was defeated in the Commons by 250 votes to 210 in April, despite the rebellion of some 35 Labour backbenchers including former ministers Kate Hoey, Frank Field and Michael Meacher.
Alongside endorsement from traditional green groups, feed-in tariffs are supported by groups and organisations across the commercial, agricultural and public sector.
Retailers are interested because of the potential for depots and commercial sites to support turbines and photovoltaic panels. The farmers' and teachers' trade unions are on board for similar reasons. For building companies, the issue is establishing the investment case to meet the government's objective that all new houses built after 2016 be carbon neutral to run. "A certain amount can be done through energy efficiency, but there will also need to be a supply of renewable energy and that technology is potentially quite expensive," John Slaughter, the director of external affairs for the Home Builders' Federation, said.
"The challenge is the up-front capital when there is little evidence that consumers will pay more for these houses, but a feed- in tariff would create an income stream that could be invested against."
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