The FIT is dead, long live the Green Deal
Published by Phil Morgan on Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011 at 16:39 pm
Following the Government's inconsiderate announcement about the early reduction of the Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) rate there might just be one unintended benefit.
To date social landlords have been mostly aware of the opportunity (and it has been an opportunity) of the somewhat generous Feed-in-Tariff rate and eager to prioritise taking advantage accordingly.
Yet the Green Deal, due to start in Autumn next year, has the ability to provide a real opportunity on investment, jobs, carbon reduction and, just in case we forget, make a fundamental difference to fuel poverty.
Put simply the Green Deal allows for the upfront payment of energy saving measures. The costs are the repaid over, say, 25 years. The really clever idea is that there is a ‘Golden Rule’ which means the Green Deal will only cover improvement if they expect to at least cover those costs back – so that people end up with net lower bills.
There’s lots of pesky detail to be worked out – finance, interest rates, how fuel costs might rise – but the really important issues are about people. Early trials are showing that if you just send out a standards marketing letter take up is poor, even when the offer is good. When tenants trust their landlord then the results are far more encouraging.
Surprisingly the most popular energy efficiency measures are the least effective – so goodbye double glazing and solar panels. Instead its hello to the quiet unseen heroes of loft insulation, new boilers and cavity wall insulation. But first prize goes to the most cost-effective measure of all: changing behaviours. Giving people the intelligence to use their energy more effectively saves lots of money and costs very little.
Looking back one of the areas of work I was most proud of at TPAS was about changing behaviours. Under the Every Action Counts umbrella, and marshalled by Gillian McLaren, TPAS recruited several dozen Community Champions – tenants able to go forth and evangelise about the benefits of changing behaviours.
Given the Government’s concerns about worklessness in social housing is there an opportunity arising here? I think so. Sloppy landlords will just parcel out Green Deal measures to some national name and forget about it.
On-the-ball landlords will instead look to create opportunities for tenants to be trained and employed to deliver the Green Deal and help change behaviours. Those tenants will get skills and work as well as the insight to work with fellow tenants. It’s that insight which can make tenants particularly effective at encouraging the all-vital take up of Green Deal.
So Feed-In-Tariffs may be dead but the Green Deal certainly isn’t. The opportunity exists for landlords to support tenants in terms of reducing fuel bills and getting jobs. Perhaps that’s where we should be looking for the future?
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