The government are proposing to cut subsidies (the Feed in Tariff) for solar by 87% in January 2016. They are also suspending ‘pre-accreditation’ which means that renewable energy projects won’t know what level of support they can expect to receive by the time the project is installed. This is a huge barrier and means most of FRECo’s renewable energy projects will no longer be viable (the current ones are guaranteed for 20 years though so don’t worry if you’ve invested with us!). Please sign the petition here and email our local MP David Warburton to ask him to raise our concerns with Amber Rudd MP, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change. Below is our press release:

FRECo’s Future Under Threat – Press Release 22/9/15

Just weeks after the announcement of Frome Renewable Energy Co-op’s successful campaign to install solar panels on Frome Medical Practice, the future of the group looks uncertain. Solar and wind now power eight million UK homes, and are close to competing with fossil fuels on cost. However, as renewable energy moves towards becoming self-sustaining, the government is threatening to slash the Feed in Tariff and to scrap the ‘pre-accreditation’ which allows renewable energy projects to plan successfully.

Anna Francis, chair of FRECo said ‘We have been really shocked by these announcements. The government’s proposals to cut renewable energy subsidies by 87 per cent and impose a cap on the amount of clean energy that can be deployed could devastate community energy projects and lead to the loss of jobs and investment in the local area. Community energy is a win win win situation – good for the community, investors and the environment. FRECo is one of over 250 community energy groups in the south west that together have to date generated enough energy to power over 2,300 typical homes. We are now facing the prospect that our community energy schemes will no longer viable.’

The government says that cuts in renewable energy subsidies are necessary to deliver value for money to the consumer. However, the average household will save only £6 per year on its energy bill by 2020/2021 as a direct result of the proposals – equivalent to 0.4 per cent of the average £1,369 family dual fuel bill. In return, the community renewable energy sector will be devastated, and the benefits the FIT brings in terms of offsetting energy bills and generating a local revenue stream will disappear. The government’s own Impact Assessment notes that jobs will also be lost.

Tim Cutting added ‘The only reason we were able to get our project off the ground is because of the Feed-in Tariff. It is because of the FIT that we have been able to generate community benefits, lower energy bills and greater energy independence for the local area. This has meant that more of the money we spend on our energy bills has stayed in the local economy, rather than going into the coffers of one of the Big Six energy companies. If the government proceeds with these devastating cuts, the opportunity for other communities to achieve the same for their area will be lost forever. I would urge anyone who cares about energy security to urgently write to their MP to urge them not to support this massive shift in policy.’ There is a petition and consultation available at: www.freco.org