Community Energy England concerned over possible community feed-in tariff U-turn

Community Energy England (CCE) has called on the government to push forward with its initial plans to extend support for community energy schemes under the feed-in tariff from 5MW to 10MW.

The body, which represents the community energy sector, is concerned that the proposals to extend support will be scrapped after a recent consultation published by the department of energy and climate change (DECC) noted that changes in state aid regulations could make the extension difficult.

Commenting on the need for increased feed-in tariff support, CCE’s director general Philip Wolfe said: “The government accepted that community schemes need this higher threshold way back in July 2013. But it has been so slow to act that it has now been overtaken by events in Brussels”.

The body is pushing for the threshold increase for community FiTs instead of accessing support under the new contacts for difference (CfD) scheme which CCE describes as “highly complex and fundamentally unsuited to participants without substantial resources and market presence”.

In addition, CCE is concerned about community projects' ability to access funding under CfDs because of the constrained budget under the levy control framework (LCF). In its response to the recent community energy consultation, CCE states: “The LCF is too financially constrained to deliver the transition to a sustainable energy mix to the required timescale. This leads to the situation where government seems to be running scared of success in its incentive mechanisms.”

As a result of the concerns outlined above, CCE is calling on the government to develop a ‘Plan B’ for community energy should extending the FiT threshold not be prove workable.

Wolfe concluded: “The community energy sector is getting caught in the crossfire as the government is back-tracking on subsidies and tax breaks for renewable energy. “It has recognised the important role of community energy as a more popular and responsible alternative to the corporate energy sector, and must ensure that it honours commitments it has made”.