15th December 2011

Energy Group's Response to FIT Consultation

Here is the Energy Group's response to the Government's consultation on Feed in Tariffs

5th December 2011

Energy/PV Group Meeting

30th November 2011

No to subsidies for destructive biomass and biofuel electricity

Please take part in two simultaneous email actions and tell your MP and the government that renewable energy support should go to clean, sustainable real renewables, such as sustainably sited wind, solar and tidal energy, and not to destructive biomass and bioliquid electricity (eg palm oil sourced from cleared rain forest plantations ).

25th November 2011

Solar PV Project Update

Solarsense are pulling out all the stops to install as many members as possible before the deadline of 12th December. As of the 25th November, 57 systems have been installed with another 6 planned before the end of the month. If you are only just being or just about to be installed, please do not delay in contacting your energy supplier to find out their process for FIT applications and submitting your paperwork before the 12th December deadline.

Three of us met with our MP, Mel Stride, on the 19th November and put many arguments to him to pass onto Chris Huhne. Mel gave the Party line on reducing the FIT, but he was interested to hear 7 people had cancelled their orders in our scheme [some in order to get installed elsewhere within deadline]. He agrees with us that the 12th December deadline is unfair and that people who have made financial commitments before this consultation was announced should be allowed to complete under the existing scheme and get the higher FIT. He will be urging Chris Huhne to relent on that deadline for such people. He would like to hear in writing (use email to save time) from people who have been affected. You must also email if your electricity company is being slow about adding you to the FIT scheme although you've had your installation or if you are still waiting hopefully for installation before 12 December. Mel has undertaken to personally chase the energy companies to see if he can speed things up. mel.stride.mp@parliament.uk 

A copy of our letter to Mel Stride is here.

It should be noted that some orders have been placed in our Sustainable Crediton scheme since the announcement on the basis of the 21p FIT. We believe it is still worthwhile at this level of tariff and it may possibly be more difficult to get the FIT if stringent energy efficiency measures are required from April 2012. The rate of return whilst we are at the 5% discount and 15% rebate is around 8% tax free and index linked. 

Finally, the Government's consultation on the level of the FIT is open for comments until the 23rd December. Please make your feelings known by completing the consultation.

31st October 2011

Solar PV Project Update

Government Consultation on FIT The government has confirmed today that it is planning to reduce solar incentives by more than 50 per cent, cutting the feed-in tariffs available to domestic and small-scale business installations, from 43.3p per kWh to just 21p per kWh. The Department of Ener ...

25th October 2011

Energy/PV Group Meeting

21st September 2011

Solar Project Public Meeting

The meeting was well attended and three more households joined the scheme after the meeting. ...

20th September 2011

Solar PV Project Update

Take up for our project continues to be excellent. 140 households have joined the scheme for a survey. 126 homes have been surveyed with 14 people still awaiting surveys. 54 orders have been placed.This means we have entered the 15% rebate part of our discount table. 18 installations have been completed. A further 20 installations are scheduled for October with installations continuing into November and December.

A Message to people considering installing Solar PV: Time is running out to benefit from current generous FIT rates

The Government are currently undertaking a comprehensive review of all aspects of the Feed-in Tariff (FIT) scheme including tariff levels and future degression rates (how the FIT reduces in future years for new installations). The review will be completed by around the end of 2011, with tariffs remaining unchanged until April 2012 (unless the review indicates the need for greater urgency). Rumour within the PV industry indicates that the Government may increase the existing degression rate from 1st April 2012, meaning that the original FIT rate from April 2012 at 37.8p/KWH may actually be reduced to a lower level. The reason put forward for the Government possibly reducing the tariff further is that originally the Government believed a return of 6 to 8% on an investment in PV would be reasonable. The returns to date have been greater than 10% due to reduction in the prices of panels and competition in the installation industry. Hence the rumour that the FIT rates will be reduced to a level that gives people a return of just 6 to 8% . 

Our Sustainable Crediton Solar Project is currently offering returns of above 12% due to our discount and rebate scheme and the generous 43.3p/KWH FIT currently available until 31st March 2012. However, the lead in time for installations under our scheme is running at 10 to 12 weeks and it takes upto a month to register a new installation with your electricity supplier to be eligible for the FIT scheme. Thus in order to benefit from the existing generous return, orders would need to be placed with Solarsense by the end of October 2011 also bearing in mind Christmas and potential bad weather during the winter. 

Are 4KW solar PV installations a thing of the past as network operators (Western Power Distribution) tighten the rules?

As more and more people install solar panels, the district network operators (DNOs) are having to work harder to balance the grid. This means that they have started to strictly enforce rules, where previously there was some leeway. Up until now most installers have just been notifying DNOs of installations of up to 4kW within 30 days of commissioning. Now they make what's called a stage 2 application to the appropriate DNO for permission to connect all systems of 3.7kW or above, before going ahead and connecting it to the grid. They should also apply if they are installing more than one system of less than 3.7kW within the same postcode. Clearly if Solarsense are installing 2 or 3 PV systems in the same road, then this problem is happening.

Some Sustainable Crediton PV buying group members are falling foul of this problem and Solarsense will work with them and Western Power to reach a solution.

6th September 2011

Energy/PV Group Meeting

4th September 2011

Taking back the power of Community

Four short videos telling heart warming stories of successful community renewable energy schemes around England: Gulworthy Cross biomass boiler Hockerton Community wind turbine Woodfardisworthy community heat pump West Oxford Community Renewables Free screenings + tasty w ...

30th August 2011

Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI)

In March 2011, the UK Government announced the details of their Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). The RHI is designed to provide financial support that encourages individuals, communities and businesses to switch from using fossil fuel for heating, to renewables such as wood fuel, solar hot water or heat pumps for example. The Renewable Heat Premium Payment scheme has now been announced and you can now make an application. There is around £12m available to householders in Scotland, England and Wales who install from 1 August 2011. Grants of £300 for solar hot water, £950 for biomass boilers, £850 for air source heat pumps and £1250 for ground source heat pumps are available until the £12m runs out. 

People in receipt of the Renewable Heat Premium Payments will be able to apply for the full RHI tariff support once the scheme is introduced in Autumn 2012, as will anybody who has installed an eligible technology since 15th July 2009. However, the Government has not yet published its proposals for how the Renewable Heat Incentive will work in the domestic sector, so there is no guarantee at this stage that those who are eligible for an Renewable Heat Premium Payment grant will also be eligible for the Renewable Heat Incentive. Whilst air source heat pumps will be eligible for the Renewable Premium Payment, a decision on whether or not they'll be included in the tariff payments will be based upon consumer feedback on the performance of the technologies. This should be clarified towards the end of 2011. 

These payments will start alongside the Green Deal from Autumn 2012 to allow a more whole-house approach to heat production and energy saving.

Full details are available on DECC's web site.

25th August 2011

Solar Energy Project

Take up for our project continues to be excellent. 128 people have joined the scheme for a survey. 111 homes have been surveyed with 17 people still awaiting surveys. 48 orders have been placed.This means we are just three orders away from the 15% rebate part of our discount table. 13 installations have have been completed. A further 6 installations are scheduled for September and then in October installations really take off with over 20 scheduled to take place.

Linda Lever and Charles Mossman met with two directors of Solarsense, including the managing director to discuss the progress of the project and some issues. Solarsense are very pleased and surprised at the take up of this project. They wanted to define what is the geographical area of Sustainable Crediton as it is not clear in our Agreement. We agreed that from the 15th August the scheme will only apply to Sustainable Crediton supporters living in the EX17 post code area or within 4 miles of Crediton if not in EX17 post code. This is still a very wide area and covers over 8000 households. We have also helped Solarsense by clarifying when customers will receive their rebate. Customers will receive their rebate on the anniversary of their own installation. This will assist Solarsense's cashflow.

We had planned two more public meetings after the school holidays in September, one in Cheriton Fitzpaine on 21st September 7:30pm in the Methodist Hall and the other in Cheriton Bishop on the 27th September. However Cheriton Bishop now falls outside of the geographical area of the scheme and we have cancelled that meeting, Cheriton Bishop members who had joined the scheme before the 15th August are still included!

Here's what Andy Chapman had to say about his recent PV installation:

"SolarSense came over yesterday to do our installation. Extremely friendly guys who were happy to answer all my annoying little questions and let me wander about taking photos while they were working. They left the place cleaner than when they started. The barely visible wiring (we had to run the AC cable under our eaves) is incredibly tidy (excellent job Josh)."

25th July 2011

Sandford/Crediton Solar Energy Project

Take up for our project continues to be excellent. 100 people have joined the scheme for a survey. 84 homes have been surveyed with 16 people still awaiting surveys. 34 orders have been placed.This puts us firmly into the 5% discount and 5% end of year rebate part of our discount table. With another 16 orders we will be into the next rebate band of 15%. Installations have started and as of the 25th July seven installations have been completed.

We have publicised the start of installations and managed to get front page headlines in the Crediton Courier on the 22nd July. We are planning two more public meetings after the school holidays in September, one in Cheriton Fitzpaine on 21st September 7:30pm in the Methodist Hall and the other in Cheriton Bishop on the 27th September, full details to be confirmed next month.

Solarsense have given us notice that they believe the price of Sanyo pv panels will be increasing as a result of the recent natural calamities in Japan which have somewhat disturbed Sanyo's manufacturing supply chain. We will update the website with any price changes when and if they occur.

Solarsense (our PV partner company) win 'Company of the Year' Award

The Renewable Energy Association is "the voice of the renewables industry in the UK" - the national organisation which represents renewable energy producers and promotes the use of all forms of renewable energy in the UK, so to win their Company of the Year Award is a huge accolade for Solarsense. The Company Award criteria is for "the industry participant which has done most during the year to advance UK renewables", and Solarsense were up against stiff competition from prominent nationwide organisations including Barfoot Energy, Drax Power and Sevenoaks Energy Academy. In the end the judges' decision swung in Solarsense's direction by merit of the fact that Solarsense not only stand out in the UK as long established and experienced solar installers, but that they also take the benefits of solar to the developing world with their annual charity project work taking direct action with solar power.

30th June 2011

Sustainable Crediton invited to join Devon County Council in an energy partnership - SEACS

Sustainable Crediton along with Transition Town Totnes and Transition Exeter were invited to a meeting with Devon County Council about a new project known as SEACS. The SEACS project aims to build a cross channel network of energy ambassadors to jointly raise awareness of, and promote opportunities for, citizens to move through the 'energy hierarchy' (reducing energy demand; implementing energy efficiency; using clean/renewable technology). DCC is the lead partner, with the other participants Dorset CC, Wiltshire CC and two areas of France: Côtes d'Armor and Lannion Trégor Agglomération. The project will run until September 2014.

The project will be working with individual households, communities, schools and within the partner authorities themselves, to facilitate and test different methods of engagement and promotional activity, as well as undertaking feasibility studies for the installation of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies. Sustainable Crediton were invited because we already have a community scheme running and DCC would like to learn from us. Delivery will also be assisted by key delivery agencies such as the energy advice centres in each participating country. Learning from a wide range of stakeholders will be integral to the project, to identify case studies, good practice and experience, so that the project adds value to existing work on the ground rather than replicating it. 

The methods and tools employed, and the resulting outputs and outcomes will be shared through exchange of experience and technical seminars, leaving a legacy of case studies and a toolkit for future use across the European community. 

At the moment we are unsure how the project will evolve and what our involvement will be, but it is good that we were recognised by DCC for one of our projects and asked to participate.

28th June 2011

Sandford/Crediton Solar Energy Project Update

Take up for our project has been excellent. 80 people have joined the scheme for a survey. 58 homes have been surveyed and the remaining 22 people have been contacted, appointments made and surveys will be completed within the next 3 weeks. 27 orders have been placed with a further 4 orders awaiting deposits from customers.

This puts us firmly into the 5% discount and 5% end of year rebate part of our discount table. Another 23 orders will be needed to get into the next rebate band of 15%. Installations have started and as of the 28th June two installations have been completed. Due to the volume of work Solarsense have agreed that we will have a full-time dedicated surveyor, Ian Ford, for the time being. We also have an office point of contact, Jennifer Stanley-Smith, to help manage the pipeline of work through the Solarsense system. Contact details are on our website on the Solar Project page.

Solarsense have provided us with some additional priced options which can be found on the Solar Project page. These options have a payback at the current level of discount and rebate of less than 8 years. Now really is the time to invest in a PV system. 

Once Solarsense have completed the outstanding surveys, our Project Team will be looking at further ways to promote the scheme in the area.

1st June 2011

Sandford/Crediton Solar Energy Project Update

We continue to have an excellent uptake for our Solar Energy Project with over 60 households having signed up for a survey from Solarsense. Nineteen orders have been placed through the scheme, meaning we are only one order away from the 5% discount and 5% rebate part of our incentive table. A total of 10% in the form of rebate and discount can be a saving of over £1000 on a typical system on already very keen prices. Now is the time to invest with the feed-in tariffs at their highest before they start to fall from April 2012. Payback times are probably in the region of 8 years at the moment.

26th May 2011

Sandford/Crediton Solar Energy Project - Public Meeting

Our public meeting for the Sandford/Crediton Solar Energy Project at the Old Town Hall was well attended. Over 60 people came and we had 16 households sign up for a survey on the night with a further 6 applications so far through the post. There was over an hour of questions and answers whi ...

2nd May 2011

Sandford/Crediton Solar Energy Project Update

We have had an excellent uptake so far with over 40 households having signed up for a survey from Solarsense. Our surveyor, who has been on holiday for a week, is working his way through the list and is aiming to complete all the surveys by week ending 7th May. Ten people so far have placed orders through the scheme. This means that we are already into the 5% discount plus 2.5% rebate part of our discount table. 

The Government has increased the feed-in tariffs from the 1st April, 2011 to 43.3p for generation and 3.1p for export making installing a PV system an even more attractive investment. However please note that from 1st April 2012, the feed-in tariff rates will decrease for new installations after that date to 37.8p. So to maximise the feed-in tariff return it makes sense to install a system before the 1st April next year. A typical 2.2KWp system will now cost a little under £8000 with the 5% discount and 2.5% rebate. The new tariff rates and savings from using your own generated electricity will produce an income/savings of £950 making a payback of just over 8 years.

We have included a link to the actual agreement between Sustainable Crediton and Solarsense on the Sustainable Crediton Solar Project page so that you can see Solarsense's obligations under the agreement. 

The project team is now about to promote the scheme in and around Crediton. There will be a public meeting at the Old Town Hall in Crediton at 7:30 pm on the 26th May where there will be a short presentation about our scheme and a chance to ask Solarsense questions. Do come if you are thinking about installing solar PV panels.

30th March 2011

News from the Energy Group

Sandford/Crediton Solar Energy Project Update

Sustainable Crediton has selected Solarsense as our preferred supplier of photovoltaic panels.

After our extensive tendering process which started out with 28 companies, which was whittled down to five for tender, we evaluated Solarsense to be the best value supplier for our buying group. Solarsense is a fully accredited installer of solar PV (electric) systems and have installed over 3,100 such systems since 1994, making them the leading installer in Bristol, Somerset and the South West, and amongst the most experienced in the UK.

The Buying Group scheme comprises a price list of a wide range of PV systems updated quarterly, a 5% community discount applicable to Sustainable Crediton supporters who have joined the scheme and a further rebate payable after 12 months depending on total number of installations carried out. For example if between 10 and 19 systems are installed, there will be an additional 2.5% rebate; between 20 and 50 systems installed, a 5% rebate; and over 50 systems, installed a 15% rebate. Sustainable Crediton supporters will need to join the Buying Group in order to benefit from the scheme.

It is our intention to promote the scheme widely in Crediton and neighbouring villages, but wish to give our existing supporters the first chance to have a survey done.

Full details of the scheme and an application form can be found here.

We recognise that installing PV panels is a large investment. We have researched whether there are any low cost loans available but unfortunately there does not appear to be any. However the Government did pledge to set up a "pay as you
save" low interest loan scheme. They have gone quiet on this recently and it would be very useful if a number of us could write to or email Mel Stride and/or Chris Huhne and remind them about pay as you save arrangements for those who can't afford to pay up for renewables upfront.

From the BBC News

Energy: Major tidal energy scheme set for waters off Islay


10th March 2011

Sandford/Crediton Solar Energy Project - Public Meeting

At the public meeting for our Sandford/Crediton Solar Energy Project, attended by over 50 people,we proposed a fee to join the scheme in order to fund both the ongoing publicity of this project and any future projects. Having previously explained the benefits accruing to our supporters from ...

28th February 2011

Sandford/Crediton Solar Energy Project

We are making good progress with our project to gain group installation of photovoltaics at a reduced price. There are currently 24 people on the 'seriously interested' list and others who are pretty interested or definitely want to go ahead later. 

Tender documents were issued in January to five companies and we have received submissions back from three . We are busy evaluating the offers and feel confident that we will be able to set up a "Buying Group" for Sustainable Crediton supporters living in and a few miles around Crediton by the end of March. Essentially what we are aiming to set up is a Buying Group whereby Sustainable Crediton and the Solar Panel Installer agree a set of prices for solar PV panels and a set of discounts depending on the number of supporters who buy through the scheme. The more supporters who purchase through the scheme then the greater the eventual discount obtainable for the Buying Group. The actual contract for an individual installation will be between the Installer and the supporter, not Sustainable Crediton.

Sustainable Crediton supporters will have to join the Buying Group in order to benefit from the scheme. We haven't
yet determined if there will be a cost to joining the Buying Group. However much volunteer work has gone into getting this far and some on-going costs have been expended. In order to be sustainable, so that we can do other projects in the future, we may charge a nominal amount for people to join the scheme. More information will be given once we have selected our Installer and agreed all the details.

Logo for 38 Degrees
28th February 2011

Support the Renewable Heat Incentive

38 Degrees, the campaigning organisation who famously organised the successful petition to save our forests, is running a campaign to Back Renewable Heat. Currently only 1% of our heat energy comes from renewable sources, but 47% of UK greenhouse gas emissions come from heating. That means half the problem of climate change is about how we heat our homes and workplaces. 

The new Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme was supposed to start in April 2011, but the Coalition Government has not committed to stick with it. But if this plan is dropped, the UK won't be able to acheive the "low carbon economy" or the "green recovery" that was promised by George Osborne before he was elected. The Spending Review will decide whether the government will stick with its commitments or stop investing properly in renewable heat.

Sign the petition now to Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, calling on him to continue to support the initiative and the tell your friends. 

Photograph of photovoltaic panels on a cottage roof
16th January 2011

Sandford Energy Project to be extended to Crediton area

We have received lots of interest from local and national PV installers to our pre-tender questionnaire. It is apparent that there is potential for a real group discount if we can get a few householders involved with our project. We have short listed to five installers and we plan to issue a t ...