U.K. Says Energy Plan Puts Rocket Boosters on Efficiency

U.K. measures to reduce consumer utility bills will also put “rocket boosters” onto a program to improve the energy efficiency of homes, Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker said today in an interview.

The Energy Department today announced policies to cut an average customer’s annual energy costs by 50 pounds ($82). SSE Plc and Centrica Plc, two of the nation’s “Big Six” suppliers, said they would cut bills as a result. The plan includes a rebate on taxes charged when people buy new homes, to be spent on energy-efficiency measures, and a quadrupling of support to councils to use on street-by-street insulation programs.

The moves are designed to boost the Green Deal efficiency program, the centerpiece of the government’s first energy law, which has been slow to attract interest since it started on Jan. 28. By the end of October, just 219 households had begun a financing plan under the program out of almost 102,000 homes assessed. Barker had said he hoped for 10,000 plans by year-end.

“The first few months of the Green Deal are all about building confidence in the supply chain and training up installers,” Barker said by phone. “Having got that framework in place, with the first 100,000 assessments, now is the time to put rocket boosters.”

Under the Green Deal, homeowners take out a loan that’s repayable through their energy bills. The aim is for the repayments to be less than the savings that result from the measures, such as insulation and new boilers.

While few consumers who have had a Green-Deal assessment have taken up a financing package, more than 80 percent plan to install recommended measures with their own money or a government cash-back program, Barker said.

Tax Rebate

The government is increasing to 80 million pounds from 20 million pounds a program to help local authorities and community groups plan energy efficiency measures, according to Barker.

The 1,000-pound rebate on the stamp duty charged for house purchases is designed to attract consumers when homes are empty and buyers are more likely to carry out the improvements, said Barker. For more expensive measures, the rebate could be as much as 4,000 pounds.

“People are most likely to make improvements to their home when they move house,” Barker said. “We expect to see Green Deal finance become an increasingly important way of allowing consumers to make improvements to their homes.”

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