Energy and Climate Change Minister, Greg Barker has defended his department’s handling of the solar feed-in tariff after a series of written questions were submitted to parliament questioning the circumstances surrounding recent turmoil in the industry.

Caroline Flint, Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change lead the enquiry, questioning whether DECC has estimated Government’s potential liability for loss of income following the Supreme Court ruling on its consultation on the feed-in tariff for solar power. Barker responded curtly, declaring that “Government have made no such estimate, as it does not accept that it has any such liability.”

Flint followed up by asking Barker to declare the final legal costs incurred by the Department from successive legal appeals to the High Court’s initial ruling that DECC’s handling of the FiT cuts was “legally flawed”. Barker outlined that the total legal costs incurred by DECC to date stood at approximately £88,870. Flint then questioned whether Barker knew the legal costs incurred by the opposition, which DECC has been ordered to pay. Barker replied: “The costs of HomeSun and the other respondents have not yet been assessed.” It is reasonable to expect that all other parties incurred similar costs in legal fees as DECC, leaving the department liable for around £300,000 on top of their own legal expenses.

Flint also questioned when the Minister plans to publish the expected levels of deployment for solar PV. Barker responded that: “The draft impact assessment accompanying the consultation on Phase 2A of the comprehensive review of the feed-in tariffs scheme included projections for expected levels of solar PV deployment under different scenarios for future PV installation costs and proposed tariffs (available here).

“These deployment projections will be updated in the final impact assessment, which will be published alongside the Government response to the consultation. The Department expects to publish its response to the consultation within the next few weeks.”

Graeme Morrice, MP for Livingston called on the minister to set out what measures will be introduced to ensure the feed-in tariff will be adjusted to reflect rising costs as well as falling costs of solar PV modules and installation to ensure stable growth for the industry.

Barker responded: “Over the period February 9 to April 3 2012, as part of the comprehensive review of the feed-in tariffs scheme, the Government consulted on proposals for a tariff-setting mechanism for solar photovoltaic installations which is designed to respond to changes in the market and provide stability for the industry.

“We are currently analysing the responses, which will be taken into account as part of final decision-making on the policy, and will publish the outcome of the consultation in May.”

Barker’s responses will do little to help reinstall installers’ faith in his ability to oversee the feed-in tariff scheme after disappointing April figures were revealed. However, his acknowledgement that DECC will be updating the deployment projections might hint that the Department is listening to industry’s concerns as it waits with bated breath for DECC to publish its response to the consultation and lay out the path for the next three years.