Saturday, 28 June 2014

Highs and Lows of RHI

Flashback to 2010 our solar thermal panels  are installed
In the dying months of the last Labour Government the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) was conceived. The Govt had recently approved the Feed In Tariff for the generation of renewable electricity from small and medium scale solar, wind and hydropower. The approval of an incentive scheme for renewable heat technologies, such as biomass boilers, heat pumps and solar thermal, did comes as a bit of surprise from a government that had been pretty lacklustre on the green agenda for the previous 12 years in government. Before the details of tariff payments made there way through parliament in 2010, Labour went and lost the General Election to be replaced by the 'greenest government ever'. There followed a depressing spate of cuts of green energy schemes but not to the Renewable Heat Incentive which remained protected. Some cause for cheer one would think but then the years went by. Consultations, delay, promised start dates reneged on and more delays. The non domestic RHI did eventually commence but the domestic version was only launched a few weeks ago, nearly five years after it as originally approved.

At this point In the story, I will declare an interest. I had a Solar thermal system installed by Hebden Bridge company EcoHeat in April 2010. Any renewable heat technology installed after July 2009 with a valid Microgeneration Certification Scheme certificate would qualify for a legacy payment. So after more than 4 years I'd finally get the promised RHI payments but not without going through so e unnecessary hoops. First I'd have to get a Green Deal Advice Report at the cost of £120. This was supposedly to ensure I had insulation measures installed, but then I had an Energy Performance Certificate carried out only a couple of months ago to enable me to have cavity wall insulation installed. This just seemed to be an expensive exercise to allow DECC Minister Greg Barker to go on the television and claim people are 'taking action' as a result of Green Deal advice when I took action 4 years ago. Anyway I got the report done as otherwise I wouldn't have been able to claim the RHI.
So I get to the point where I'm completing the online RHI claim and it asks me if I have had any
Grant support for my installation as this will be deducted. I remembered I'd had a £400 grant under the Low Carbon Buildings Programme so declared that and pressed 'submit'. A few days later I get an email from OFGEM who were administering the scheme saying they wouldn't process my RHI claim without proof of my Low Carbon Buildings Programme grant. This was particularly annoying as I hadn't got proof, I'd volunteered the information, all solar thermal grants under he LCBP were £400 and anyway shouldn't they have a database of people who had LCBP grants anyway as they are acting on behalf of government. After making these points to them OFGEM relented and decided to trust me. My first payment comes in September. Now remember, other legacy RHI applicants to make sure you declare your LCBP grants like I did!

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