Officer Decisions

Head of Planning, Transportation and Environment - Dave Black

Summary of Matter or Issue Requiring Decision:

Devon County Council (DCC) officer response to the Department of Energy and Climate Change ‘The Renewable Heat incentive: A Reformed and Refocused Scheme Consultation Document’.

Decision Taken:

An officer response has been submitted to the Department of Energy and Climate Change. Key messages in the response are:

  1. The proposed budget cap that would close the scheme to new entrants will need to be implemented carefully if it is not to stifle investors’ confidence;
  2. More support is required for heat pump technology;

A tariff guarantee is needed for community-owned schemes.

Summary of Reason(s) for Decision Taken:
  1. Budget Cap. Predicting the closure of the scheme to new applicants will be challenging to potential investors, particularly as the methodology DECC will use to determine when the scheme should be closed has not been published. Therefore while the budget cap is clearly necessary to protect the budget, the methodology used to determine closure of the scheme should be made public and regular updates on scheme deployment should be made available to give investors the information they need to make informed decisions.
  2. Heat Pumps. Devon County Council has evaluated the possibility of using a range of renewable technologies to provide heat to its schools currently heated by electric storage heaters. None of the technologies eligible for RHI provide a payback less than 20 years due to the significant cost of retrofitting the school with a wet heating system. The most cost-effective technology is air-air source heat pumps that have a payback of about 18 years (non-discounted). Air-water heat pump with the installation of a wet heating system has a payback of about 25 years (non-discounted). These business cases have considered likely electricity price rises over the project period. For information, the payback period of installing a biomass system in these schools is about 32 years.
  3. Tariff Guarantee. Community-owned schemes have long lead times due to the community engagement, raising of share finance and coordination of volunteer time that needs to occur to make the project successful. A tariff guarantee would provide confidence to community energy groups to proceed with project preparation and delivery.
Summary of Alternatives or Options considered and rejected:

The alternative is to support DECC’s proposals but it’s believed these would be detrimental to the renewable and community heat sectors.

Details of any conflict of interest and dispensation granted to the Officer taking the decision or by any Member of the Council in delegating responsibility for any specific express delegation:

The consultation response was prepared on behalf of the Head of Planning, Transportation and Environment by the Environment and Sustainability Policy Officer and Corporate Energy Manager who both regularly volunteer with Exeter Community Energy.

Contact for enquiries/further information: Doug Eltham
Decision Date: 27 April 2016

A copy of this decision and any supporting documentation considered by the Officer taking this decision may also be made available or inspection by the public at the Council’s Offices or posted upon payment of any copying and postage charges. Any member of the public wishing to take up either of these options is asked to please ring 01392 382888 or email: members.services@devon.gov.uk