Green jobs warning over cuts to solar subsidies

Cloudy future: Ed Milliband MP meets with Derrick Wilkinson of Gr33n Renewable Energy at Bentley to discuss subsidies for solar panels. Picture: Dean Atkins.
Cloudy future: Ed Milliband MP meets with Derrick Wilkinson of Gr33n Renewable Energy at Bentley to discuss subsidies for solar panels. Picture: Dean Atkins.
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A GREEN energy boss fears government cuts could damage his business and force him to lay off staff.

Derek Wilkinson, who employs 20 people at Gr33n Ltd in Bentley Road, Bentley, has attacked a planned reduction to the feed-in tariff – the subsidy paid to homes which use solar panels to generate electricity.

He believes fewer households will install solar panels because of the changes, which are due to take effect in a fortnight.

Mr Wilkinson voiced his concerns to Ed Miliband, who introduced the feed-in tariff when he was Energy Minister, when the Labour leader visited his company’s Doncaster headquarters.

Mr Wilkinson said: “Many homes and businesses in Doncaster have the potential to become their own mini power stations – by producing low-cost energy through solar panels attached to the roof.

“At the moment a household with solar panels is paid 43.3p for each kilowatt of energy it produces.

“But the Government plans to cut that amount to just 21p.That would mean it takes longer to pay off the cost of installing the panels and put people off installing them. It’s a ridiculous plan that could kill off an entire industry.”

Some firms effectively rent roofs for 25 years and take the money made from feed-in tariffs in return for allowing householders to benefit from the £90 to £180 per year reduction in their energy bills.

Doncaster North MP Mr Miliband said: “The feed-in tariff changes could cause chaos in the solar industry. The problems faced by firms like Gr33n Ltd – and others right here in Doncaster – will be replicated across the country and could affect many, many jobs.

“It is essential that the Government does not undermine the growth of the renewable energy industry.”

But the Department of Energy and Climate Change said it plans to reduce the tariffs because there is too much demand all at once and there is not enough money to cover demand at the present rate. A spokesman said: “We appreciate this will be difficult for companies affected, but what we want is an enduring future for the industry.”