Workers face axe as solar funding is cut

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MORE than 150 ‘green’ staff in Rotherham and Sheffield face the axe after Carillion put its entire 4,500-strong energy services workforce on notice of redundancy.

Insulation and solar panel fitters and office staff at the depot on Temple Close, Templeborough, Rotherham, face a tense Christmas after the launch of a 90-day consultation period.

Carillion Energy Services says it is being forced to ‘restructure’ after the Government’s shock decision to slash the Feed in Tariff, a subsidy paid for power from solar panels, from December 12.

A spokesman said: “Our solar business was growing strongly, but we expect the Government’s plans for much larger and earlier than expected cuts to Feed in Tariffs to reduce the size of the Solar PV market significantly.

“Until the consultation process is complete it is too early to speculate on how many people will be affected, especially as we will explore all opportunities for redeployment.”

Carillion bought the energy services specialist EAGA seven months ago to cash in on the Government’s green agenda.

It has been investing a fortune in its solar panel operation and hoped to fit 30,000 homes out this year. Energy Secretary Chris Huhne cut the FiT subsidy after a fall in the price of panels.

He said the cheaper cost meant householders were making a “frankly luscious” rate of return.

But industry experts claim the decision has put between 11,000 and 25,000 jobs across the country at risk overnight.

Carillion’s announcement is the latest fall out from the FiT reduction which has seen hundreds of social housing installations across the county shelved. They include projects by Yorkshire Housing, South Yorkshire Housing Association and St Leger Homes, which runs council houses in Doncaster.

Rotherham MP John Healey called for not-for-profit and council landlords to be exempt from the changes.

In a Parliamentary debate he said: “Is it not the truth that solar panels will only be for the wealthy few?”

Climate change minister Greg Barker replied: “Basic maths would inform the right hon. Gentleman that the lower the tariff, the wider the money can be spread.

“If there is a very high tariff, the finite amount of money that we have can go to only a few people. The lower the tariff, the more people can benefit.”

FiT subsidies are funded through a levy on domestic energy bills.