On 9 September, the Government released its response to the consultation on changes to the Feed-in-Tariff pre-accreditation regime.
Concerned by the prospects of over-spending under the Levy Control Framework (the “LCF”) and the expected surges in pre-accreditation applications prior to planned tariff digressions as developers seek to lock in higher rates, the Government has decided that from 1 October 2015 there will no longer be the ability to pre-accredit under the Feed-in-Tariff (“FIT”) regime. This means there will no longer be the ability to receive a guaranteed tariff in the early stages of development, and developers will have to wait until the project is commissioned before achieving any certainty on the tariff.
Despite numerous objections, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (“DECC”) has introduced a blanket removal of pre-accreditation across all sectors and technologies – this was most controversial in the context of community interest projects and hydro-generation projects, with objectors claiming this would have a disproportionately negative effect on such projects. DECC has not ruled out the possibility that pre-accreditation might be re-introduced in respect of certain sectors and/or technologies, subject to the outcome of DECC’s wider review of the FIT regime and its consideration of wider issues (for instance, the risk of non-compliance with the UK’s State Aid approval for the FIT Scheme under EU rules by reason of discrimination).
DECC has also decided not to allow any grace periods, stating that developers who are already close to achieving pre-accreditation will have had sufficient time from the time this consultation was commenced to 1 October 2015 to apply for pre-accreditation.
This change is part of a raft of changes (or proposed changes) aimed at keeping the LCF under control in order to keep consumer electricity bills down.