High court rules premature solar tariff cuts as flawed

The UK government’s plans to prematurely cut incentives for solar photovoltaic installations through the Feed-in-Tariff scheme have been ruled as legally flawed by the high court, following a two day hearing. The government could now be forced to delay its plans, enabling many more consumers to benefit from the changes and claim the higher tariffs.

Environmental charity Friends of the Earth and two solar companies challenged the recent decision to halve the Feed-in-Tariff incentive at short notice, almost two weeks before the end of the consultation period, with a devastating effect across the energy sector and thousands of job losses and breaching breached consultation rules.

The higher tariffs were cut following an overwhelming response to the introduction of the scheme, with a significant strain on the budget, which is funded through consumer energy bills, meaning the scheme would be unsustainable in the long term.

Leading ground mounted solar PV installer JPCS has welcomed the news. Commenting on the ruling, Peter Shone, managing director, said:

“The high court ruling sends a very positive message, not just in terms of potentially enabling more consumers to benefit from higher tariff rates, but also in ensuring that future consultations are held over a realistic and fair time period, to support the industry in adapting to the changes more adequately.”

For JPCS, the future in renewable energy is still bright, despite the cuts. Peter added:

“The recent incentive cuts and the negative publicity around the Feed-in-Tariffs scheme have to some extent undermined confidence in many areas of the industry. However, in our experience, interest in commercial ground mounted solar photovoltaic schemes over 50kWp has been sustained. Solar PV is still a commercially advantageous technology, and a significant contributor in reducing carbon footprint.”

The Department of Energy and Climate Change has applied for permission to appeal the judge’s ruling. Consumers and business who installed solar PV panels after the 12th December will now have to wait to find out what rates they will receive under the Feed-in-Tariff scheme.