The business, energy and industrial strategy select committee has ratcheted up the pressure on the government to “urgently” clarify its position on rooftop solar.
In a comment released yesterday, the select committee chair Rachel Reeves said that it was “disappointing” that the government had so far failed to spell out exactly why households with solar should export to the grid for free, adding that the proposals as they stand threatened to destabilise the domestic solar industry.
“The government appears to be shifting on this, but it urgently needs to set out how it will support small-scale renewables and ensure our solar industry gets the backing it deserves,” Reeves said.
The Labour MP is referring to comments made by energy and clean growth minister Claire Perry during a BEIS oral questions session earlier this week, where she appeared to confirm a U-turn on proposals to close the export tariff to new applicants from 31 March 2019.
Responding to a question from fellow Conservative MP Kevin Hollinrake, Perry said: “I do completely agree that solar power should not be provided to the grid for free and that’s why I’ll shortly be announcing the next steps for small scale renewables.”
However recent correspondence between Perry and Reeves, published by the select committee yesterday, contained no such position.
Reeves wrote to Perry on 9 October 2018 in her capacity as select committee chair to raise concerns over the proposals, specifically mentioning how representative bodies had questioned how they comply with the revised European Union Renewable Energy Directive which enshrines the right for consumers to receive fair remuneration for any power they export to the grid.
Perry’s reply, dated 30 October 2018, merely stated that responses to the original consultation were being carefully considered and a formal response was to be made “in due course”.
In the House on Tuesday Perry suggested that the government could be primed to offer that response “shortly”, but it remains to be seen whether or not an announcement is to be made before parliament rises for recess on 20 December 2018.