Surge of signatures on power feed-in tariff petition

November 18, 2011
Church of England Press Release

The Church of England is calling on the Government to slow down their plans to drop the rate of returns on electricity grid  feed-in tariffs for solar panels to give churches, and other community groups, more time to complete installation. It is also asking for a special community tariff.

The online petition from the Archbishops' Council's Cathedral and Church Building Division has already attracted almost 1000 signatures from both individuals and groups. Already 35 CofE churches have solar panels installed and more than 300 are actively considering a solar project.

Installing solar panels on churches is a complex business and the 50% cut in return rate proposed for December 12 will penalize churches who are committed to installing solar panels, but will not have time to complete, says the petition.

The installation of solar panels is promoted across the CofE's 44 dioceses as a way of using natural resources to reduce the carbon footprint of a church.  The Church, through its national environment campaign Shrinking the Footprint, is committed to the Government's carbon reduction targets of 80% by 2050.

Martyn Goss social responsibility officer for Exeter Diocese said; "This news is very disappointing. Here in the Southwest we have been encouraging churches to install panels and many will be adversely affected by this cut in tariff resulting in having the rug pulled from underneath them by such short-term political decision making".
David Shreeve the Church of England's national environment officer said: "The returns on a solar project will not be as financially attractive as they were and take longer to pay back. Whilst in the life of a church building this is not a long time it will take us into the next generation. As well as enabling churches to use renewable energy, we see solar panels on church roofs as setting a brilliant example to their local communities."

Note to Editors:
The Church is asking: 

  • That churches are exempted from the need for EPCs - provided a suitable other benchmarking audit system can be put in place*
  • That churches are allowed until 31st March 2012 to complete and install projects which are currently in the pipeline and benefit from the current FIT
  • That beyond 1st April 2012 churches are considered alongside other community projects for a specific community tariff.

*The Church is also asking DECC (Dept Energy & Climate Change) to consider an alternative to the Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) * which proves a building is being energy efficient. The Church of England has 12500 listed buildings many of which would have difficulty fulfilling these criteria despite using energy efficiently