Frank Dick and Cllr Cadogan Enright in Clough last Friday
Frank Dick and Cllr Cadogan Enright in Clough last Friday

Councillor Cadogan Enright has welcomed the potential of new schemes promoting photo-voltaic energy in the home to dive down living costs and create a better standard of living for householders but has expressed concern that NIE and other big players in the power industry are using regulation to stifle the growth of small-scale renewable energy, and has accused the regulator Ofgem of failing to implement best practice commonly used in other jurisdictions.

Cllr Enright said, “Frank Dick has made the right economic choice for his home in Clough. He could have left £3000 in the bank or building society and got a 3% return per annum if he was lucky. By investing in PV panels to generate electricity he has transformed this return to 14% or more per annum.”

Clough resident Frank Dick said “The economics of investment in renewables is clear, but the regulations are miles away from where they should be. When my PV panels were first installed in August, I was able to see my meter spin backwards during the day, and forwards in the evening when we were consuming power, just like in other countries. In September NIE arrived and installed a new meter, now I am charged 15.31p per kilowatt that I consume, and NIE will pay me 5.41p for what I export – but they only pay it to me one year in arrears while I have to pay monthly by direct debit. This is really annoying and has hit the cash flow of this project that we  were not expecting”.

Cadogan Enright agreed and said, “Frank also has to apply for is government incentive of 17.41p annually in arrears as well. Ofgem as regulator has surrounded PV panels with totally unnecessary bureaucracy. Across the USA, Canada and Japan and in other developed countries, families can operate on a ‘net meter’ basis paying for, or being paid, for the difference between consumption and production at year end.”

Frank Dick has also invested in evacuated solar tubes, which produce hot water even in winter sunlight.  “Clearly with this technology there is no meter as the hot water goes directly to my tank. This is the way the electricity generated form my PV panels should work” said Frank..

“I have written to Ofgem to protest that Frank has to fill in two application forms annually and has had  to have 2 new meters installed. The PV panels could have been installed in a ‘net meter’ basis and forgotten about. Now we have teams of people in NIE and Ofgem processing forms and driving up the indirect cost of renewable energy in NI for no good reason. All this indirect cost needs to be removed, and direct grants for the hardware increased.” Concluded Cllr Enright