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Green Deal launch to be scaled back

Green policy news – by Louise Bateman
15th March 2012
Some households and businesses that qualify for the Green Deal could find they can’t access it straight away under plans being considered to scale back the launch of the national insulation programme.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said it is currently examining options with the big energy firms on how to implement a smaller-scale Green Deal when the energy efficiency programme officially launches on October 1. The change in strategy follows reports the launch of the Green Deal could be delayed until next year because of a wrangle between the Government and the energy companies over the funding framework for the scheme.

"This won’t be a big bang, we want to launch steadily," a DECC spokesperson told GreenWise. "We are in discussions with the Big Six at the moment on how we might manage that launch."

DECC has been touting the Green Deal as the biggest national improvement programme since the Second World War and in November the Government announced £200 million extra funding to kick-start the scheme. Chris Huhne, who was Energy Secretary at the time, said the money would ensure the "Green Deal hits the ground running" and made it "as attractive as possible so that people start to benefit from day one."

But last week, Shadow Climate Change Minister Luciana Berger called on DECC to "come clean" about the scheme as its launch appeared to have been "thrown into chaos".

And today it emerged that secondary legislation for the Green Deal is being delayed until the summer. 

Managed rollout
Neither DECC nor the energy companies would say what options are now on the table to scale back the scheme, although a regional rollout has apparently been ruled out. The DECC spokesperson said a "managed" launch would ensure the Green Deal "doesn’t fall on its face on the first day".

A spokesperson from Energy UK, which represents Britain’s gas and electricity industry, added: "It will be important with the Green Deal that the customer experience is a positive one to ensure that all those who are interested can take it up and see the benefits."

Big Six
It emerged last week that the Big Six may not be ready with their new billing platforms to collect payments for the scheme come October. However, even though payment collections will not start coming through until the end of 2012, DECC said all six energy firms will still have to be ready for the October 1 launch or face the possibility of being fined. The Big Six are the only energy suppliers required by law to implement the Green Deal. 

The Green Deal is being launched to tackle Britain’s 'leaky’ homes and cut carbon emissions. The Government aims to insulate 14 millions homes between now and 2020 through the scheme. By signing up to it, homeowners and businesses will have access to loans for loft and cavity wall insulation, lagging and other energy efficiency measures, at no upfront cost. 

But despite widespread political and industry support, questions are being raised about the scheme’s viability. The Government’s own climate adviser the Committee on Climate Change warned in December that the Green Deal would only insulate three million homes unless changes were made to it, while critics of the scheme have said it’s a flawed policy that will mean consumers will end paying double for energy efficiency measures.

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