The UK Government’s decision to cut support for homeowners who instal solar panels will come under scrutiny today.
The subsidy, known as the Feed-in Tariff, is a cashback scheme available to those who create their own green energy. It means that householders receive rebates for the electricity they put back into the national grid.
Westminster plans to halve the amount allocated to people whose panels go up after December 12, prompting outrage from both the provider companies and Labour MPs.
Today, the first of two joint public evidence sessions will be heard by the energy and climate change and environmental audit committees sitting together in London.
Witnesses will include senior figures from the solar industry and Climate Change Minister Gregory Barker.
A second hearing will take place on Thursday.
In parliament last week, Labour politicians urged the government to rethink the policy on the grounds it would damage investor confidence in energy policy and the industry.
On Wednesday, shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint warned the impact of the cuts could cost 25,000 jobs and risk thousands of businesses.
She told MPs: “The record will show that, while Labour began this growth industry, this government’s policies have all but killed it in its infancy.”
Energy Secretary Chris Huhne said the scheme had been built on “shaky economic foundations” and needed to be put on a fair and sustainable footing to “grow and prosper”.
He insisted tariffs needed to reflect the fall in the costs of making solar panels and accused Labour of “scaremongering” by saying existing installations would be affected by the changes when this was not the case.
The subsidy paid to homeowners whose installations were carried out before the cut-off point will not change.
Other MPs raised concerns about the December deadline, a fortnight before the official consultation on the issue closes. Mr Huhne maintained, however, that even a “very small delay” in tackling the problem would result in “very substantial costs” for electricity consumers over the next 25 years.
Labour’s motion calling on the government not to cut the subsidy next month was rejected by 297 to 226, a majority of 71. A government motion defending the decision won by 292 votes to 220, a majority of 72.