ECO praised but government green scheme criticised by Ed Davey
A government supported loan initiative which has been intended to assist people make their homes more green friendly has been branded ëdisappointing by the UKís energy and climate change secretary.
Ed Davey, argued that the green deal finance plans scheme- which involves energy specialists being sent to households in order to make an assessment of itís green capabilities- has been ëdisappointingí, and identified the entire initiative as being ëtoo clunky and too complexí.
The energy secretary added that of the 145,000 people to receive an assessment of their households green facilities, only a few hundred have actually signed up to receive a green makeover via the scheme, but did optimistically forecast this to pick up in the future with further assessments being identified as being on the horizon.
Speaking at the Ecobuild conference in the capital this afternoon, Mr Davey said: “The good news is that we have a lot of assessments to go on. But when it comes to converting green deal assessments into finance plans, the story so far has been, let’s face it, disappointing.”
However, Mr Davey also argued that despite the green deal finance schemes failure thus far, that nevertheless the governmentís broader green programme is beginning to gather momentum, and forecasted that over a million households across England and Wales would be insulated in a green manner by April next year.
He added that the green schemes sister programme, the Energy Companies Obligation (ECO), has been a ëhuge success storyí, and has incurred the transformation of 457,000 properties across the UK into vastly more energy efficient and better insulated households.
The ECO was implemented at the start of 2013 by the government in a bid to modernise UK householdís insulation capabilities and combat fuel poverty across the country. The initiative is funded by energy suppliers, and is estimated to be worth around £1.3 billion of funding every year.
The scheme is set to run till March 2015, and Mr Davey pointed out its success at achieving its aim of installing energy efficient mechanisms such as solid wall insulation, in low income households across the country.
The energy minister added that a monumental 145,000 green assessments have been undertaken to date, all of which have garnered around £100 for further investment in the future.
However, the scheme has received huge levels of criticism since its implementation last year and was a huge area of controversy at the end of 2013, with politicians and consumers alike complaining that the costs of the obligation were being passed on from providers to customers.
Energy providers have continually argued that the ECO is placing a huge financial strain on their businesses, which has forced them to persistently instigate price hikes, and many consumers have called for the government to ëroll backí the scheme in a bid to reduce consumer bills with their energy.
The culmination of the past wave of criticism back in December was the governmentís removal of green and social levies placed on energy companies, which resulted in previous price hikes being reduced by all of the countryís ëbig sixí energy providers and savings being passed onto customers.
Nevertheless, the scheme remains an issue of contention between energy providers and the government, which will likely continue until its cessation in March next year.
ECO reform expected
Despite Mr Daveyís praise and avocation of the ECO initiative, he did concede that its current carnation needs changing, and promised to make certain costs for new energy efficient appliances more in reach of household finances.
Davey argued that a primary reform that will be instigated is transferring the loan debt for new energy efficient components such as boilers onto the borrowers property, rather than their immediate finances, in a move that he believes will save consumers a great deal in the long term and will achieve it in an financially viable manner.
“What we have learned is that the green deal assessment is a bigger part of the green deal than I think we had recognised,” he said.
Mr Davey outlined that changes would be made to the scheme and indeed his department, which would make them more ëconsumer friendlyí, and highlighted that proposals for an revamp of the online green deal procedure were already underway so that people will find it easier to access and sign up for the scheme.
Peter Smith, a spokesman for prominent fuel poverty charity, National Energy Action, praised the new modifications that have been identified with the ECO scheme but warned that greater changes will need to be applied in the future in order for it to become truly effective.
“Whilst the available resources through ECO remain insufficient, many of the proposed changes in the consultation could greatly improve the current scheme,” he said.