SOLAR panel installers in South Yorkshire have hit out at a decision to slash money paid to householders who generate electricity from the sun because too many people are taking advantage of the offer.
Sheffield has the most solar power generated per head of population in the UK.
But companies fear the Government decision will mean fewer people installing the equipment and hundreds of South Yorkshire jobs could be lost.
The Government is reducing the Feed in Tariff by more than half for any properties fitting solar panels after next month. The FIT is paid for energy from domestic solar panels fed into the National Grid.
In the first three months of this year the Government paid out more than £4.4m in FITs - much more than was budgeted for.
Martin Wilson, director of the Killamarsh-based Navitas Solar, said: “This decision will spread doubt across the whole industry. The Government has said that three times as many people have expressed an interest as it planned.
“There are 20 to 30 companies involved in installation of solar panels around Sheffield alone and there could be hundreds of jobs at risk as orders are cancelled and there is less future interest.”
Wentworth and Dearne MP John Healey said a scheme to install free solar panels at 200 pensioners’ council bungalows in the Dearne by Barnsley Council could be in danger.
He said: “Pensioners in nearly 200 council bungalows in the Dearne are set to benefit from new solar panels free of charge.
“That scheme, which was put together by Barnsley Council and Berneslai Homes, is at risk from the Minister’s announcement. Is it not the truth that, with the changes, solar panels will become available only to the wealthy few?”
The Dearne scheme would see tenants receive free use of electricity generated by the panels, saving them around £130 a year.
Philip Mosley, who runs Norcroft Electrical in Hoylandswaine, Barnsley, said: “We all knew FITs were going to be reduced at the end of next March, but to cut them so much and so soon could kill a growing industry and put thousands of people out of work.”
Sheffield-based company, The Energy Initiative, is urging consumers in Sheffield to install solar PV panels as soon as possible, before the December change.
The FIT will fall from 43.3.p per KWh to 21p after December 12 this year.