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Helping to Win Change in EU Rules

Date: 11 Nov 2010

Cornwall and the South West’s leading solar PV firm has successfully lobbied the DECC to re-interpret Euro rules on grants and the Feed-in tariff.

Plug Into The Sun’s MD Andy Tanner gained the support of two local MPs and along with residents and campaigners in Cornwall, has fought for a fairer ruling for schools and community groups. Now they will be able to access their grant and the Feed-in tariff. This is great news for Cornish schools who can now make money from the sun with a solar installation.

Back in March, the DECC – quoting from European directive – announced that solar PV installations on non-domestics which had been fitted using a 50% grant from the Low Carbon Building Programme Phase 2, would not be eligible for the Feed-in tariff also. This meant many community projects were left with installations beyond their means and unable to serve their purpose – to make enough money to sustain them using the F.I.T. The ruling also meant that the “Solar Generation 2010” schools project supported by Plug Into The Sun would not go ahead – so most of the Cornish schools with the grant were unable to proceed with a PV installation as often it was not viable without the F.I.T.

St Just Sports Centre Solar Power Install St Just Sports Centre Solar Power Install St Just Sports Centre had just had an install and discovered they wouldn’t be able to get the F.I.T. Their rep, Cllr Chris Goninan called it at the time “a disgrace…we will get nothing… We are a charity limited by guarantee and now need help from the people in power to ensure rural and deprived areas have similar chances to those in urban areas.”

Their installer was Plug Into The Sun and Managing Director Andy Tanner agreed. He went over the so-called “European directive” with a fine toothcomb and discovered there was no such rule which stated non-domestic properties shouldn’t be allowed both the grant and the F.I.T. Thus, after garnering the support of Andrew George MP and Sarah Newton MP and a lot of hard work, talking and arguing, we have just heard the DECC has finally backed down.

Thanks to the hard work and lobbying of Plug Into The Sun and Community Energy Plus; the support of local MPs and the determination of Cornish communities like St Just, Cornish schools and community projects now have the potential to access both their original grant and the Feed-in tariff. (There are still two restricting factors – see - the organization cannot have received more than 200,000 Euros in state aid in the last 3 years and the installation needs to be finished and commissioned by the end of February 2011.)

Andrew George MP says,

“I’m pleased that common sense has prevailed. I had been urging the Secretary of State to put right this unfairness. This will be a great relief to many small community groups, charities and schools who were only trying to do the right thing.”

Managing Director Andrew Tanner reveals,

“I’m delighted a Cornish company like ours has been able to influence Westminster but more than that, I am delighted for all the communities in Cornwall and beyond who are now being fairly rewarded for going solar. My only concern is that all the schools in Cornwall who had the grant are now given the opportunity to go ahead with their installation. With the February 2011 deadline it is a bit of a race against time. It is so important that anyone who had the grant gets in touch with us without delay.”

Cllr Chris Goninan is equally pleased the St Just Sports Centre can now access payments for their energy generation, thanks to the Feed-in Tariff. But he has this message for the government,

“Throughout this country there are hundreds of thousands of people giving their time, commitment and passion to improving our communities and delivering the so-called “Big Society”. These people need the support of those in power.”