Reactions to proposed Green Deal scheme mixed

The Government's energy efficiency Green Deal scheme has received a mixed reaction from industry experts and businesses, after the Treasury reveals plans to commit £200m in incentives.

Financing for the scheme, which will enable homes and businesses to install energy saving measures upfront, was unveiled yesterday (November 24) by chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander, in a bid to encourage households and business to take up the scheme.

This follows the launch of a consultation into the Green Deal plan on Wednesday (November 23) by energy and climate change secretary Chris Huhne in which he outlined the details of the scheme.

As part of the scheme, from October 2012 homeowners and businesses will be given access to funding to install insulation, or other energy-saving measures, which can then be repaid over time as savings are made.

The Big Six energy suppliers will also part fund the scheme, providing around £1.3bn a year.

Speaking yesterday, Mr Alexander described the scheme as an “offer that could save early adopters hundreds of pounds” adding that the £200m fund injected by the Treasury would get the Green Deal “off to a flying start”.

He added: “I can announce today that as part of the Autumn Statement we will provide £200m of funding for new and additional support to enable a special time-limited ‘introductory offer’ for the Green Deal.

“One that will work with the Green Deal mechanism and the ECO to motivate thousands of more consumers to take up energy efficiency measures, over the next two years.”

Mr Huhne added: “This big injection of government funding delivers on our promise to ensure the Green Deal hits the ground running, and make it as attractive as possible so that people start to benefit from day one.”

The scheme has, however, received a mixed response from consumer groups, businesses and environmental groups, with some welcoming the move as having “potential”, while others slammed it as a “great disappointment”. All called for greater clarity around the scheme to be issued.

Consumer Focus director of energy, Audrey Gallacher, said he welcomed the scheme which he believed has the “potential to transform millions of homes”.

However, he noted that the proposals “still need to provide more detail on how the Government plans to help households in fuel poverty”.

He added: “A well-designed Energy Company Obligation (ECO) that focuses initially on low income consumers would help the Government meet both its fuel poverty and carbon targets.

“The proceeds from new carbon taxes could be used to provide vital funds to support a national energy efficiency programme that complements Green Deal and ECO. Consumer Focus does not consider Green Deal and ECO are sufficient by themselves to meet the Government’s statutory carbon and fuel poverty targets.”

Navetas Energy Management strategic communications director and Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) committee member Nick Wellington, told edieEnergy that “the Government’s new Green Deal scheme demonstrates how the UK’s political agenda is turning to energy efficiency, sustainability and carbon reduction”.

Mr Wellington, who is also an edie blogger, added that “if we are serious about reducing energy use and improving energy efficiency more broadly that the Government will have to work with energy providers and utilities to ensure consumers receive detailed information about how, when and why they use energy, to actively help them change energy consumption behaviours, and lower energy bills, in the long-term”.

The North West Fund for Energy & Environmental, fund manager Adam Workman, told edieEnergy that the scheme is “great news for both businesses and consumers in the North West”.

He said: “Across the region there are a significant number of businesses with the expertise to deliver the cost benefits outlined by the Green Deal. One of the initial perceived barriers has always been where the capital to fund these installations will come from.

“Here, the UK Government has chosen to take a leading role in providing the initial £200m of finance, which will hopefully unlock the £14bn of private investment outlined by the energy secretary Chris Huhne.”

Greenpeace senior energy campaigner Louise Hutchins, also welcomed the proposal saying it is “the right ambition to create an energy policy that will lift hundreds of thousands out of fuel poverty”. 

However, she warned that “to achieve this, serious support is needed from the treasury to make the Green Deal and ECO home insulation measures affordable to many households”. 

Not all reactions were positive. Micropower Council, which represents companies and organisations active in the microgeneration sector, chief executive Dave Sowden, criticised the plans, saying that ”the Government appears to have ignored completely the views of the microgeneration industry and a much wider coalition, expressed consistently over the last eighteen months. The current proposals for Green Deal pay scant attention to the potential for microgeneration, a key catalyst in driving consumer interest in energy efficiency, the most cost effective means of reducing bills and carbon.

”The failure to include microgeneration in the Green Deal in any meaningful way will seriously jeopardise likely future consumer interest in energy upgrades, thereby making this policy little more than a Great Green Gamble”

Carys Matthews

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