Towards the end of the year we blogged about how the government cuts to the feed in tariff had been ruled unlawful. At the time the government were not given leave to appeal but they then proceeded to do just that. However the Court of Appeal has today denied the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) a hearing for its appeal against the High Court’s ruling back in 2011
So what does this mean?
There is still some confusion about what happens now. Essentially the feed-in tariff will increase back to 43.3p for system installed on or before March 3, 2012. It also means that for many people who had solar PV systems installed since the original proposed cut off date of December 12, and those who intend to install systems before the March 3 cut-off point, will receive the higher feed-in tariff rates for the full 25 years. Installations completed and registered on or after March 3 will qualify for the current higher rate until April 1, at which point the rates will drop to 21p. **(See update below)
The decision is likely to lead to another period of frantic activity and installations for many in the industry. The original announcement was made back in November and provided just over 1 month for installers to complete their installations. As a result more PV installation were completed in November than for previous months in 2011.
Many in the industry see this decision as a victory for common sense and justice:
Daniel Green, CEO of HomeSun, said: “Four judges, including three in the Court of Appeal, have now called the Government’s actions illegal. That’s a four-nil victory and a decisive ruling that Government may not make retrospective changes to the FiT because, as Lord Justice Moses concludes, to do so ‘would be to take away an existing entitlement without statutory authority.’”
“Both this appeal and the Judicial Review in The High Court would not have been required had DECC simply followed its own process and allowed the industry, that it claims to support, time to prepare for a lower feed-in tariff,” continued Green.
It is right that the government be held accountable for their actions and the way in which rash decision and actions impact on industry. However what the industry really needs now and in the future is stability. Hopefully the ruling will help towards this. Greg Barker said it best when he tweeted:
“Win, lose or draw today, important we move forward together, drive down costs + step up deployment.”
This is and will be the key aim for the industry moving forwards.
**UPDATE: 12.30pm: The government within the last hour has confirmed they intend to appeal this decision. As such this again throws uncertainty over whether or not PV installations will qualify for the higher tariff despite the fact it is highly unlikely the government will win this appeal.