Energy and environment MPs get confused over the impact of feed-in tariff cuts
Earlier this week, the Tank dealt with the puzzling nature of Bruce Forsyth, and today we're trying to get our head round another of life's mysteries – how much feed-in tariffs would add to energy bills if the government delayed deep cuts to the incentive scheme?
We're only prompted to offer our expertise in the matter as it seems neither the MPs on the Energy and Climate Change and Environmental Audit Committees, nor even the government itself, has a Scooby Doo.
At a parliamentary committee hearing this week, industry players said a delay of the cuts to April would add just 80p per year on consumer energy bills by 2020.
But the government's projections keep increasing: an initial impact assessment said it would add £26 a year, but that rose to £55 and now stands at £80.
Labour MP Barry Gardiner became so exasperated with the hapless witnesses wheeled out by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) that he flat-out accused them of trying to confuse the committee.
"You're mixing up two separate 'do-nothing' scenarios," he shouted. "The secretary of state talked about a 'do-nothing' scenario into the future.. Now you're talking about a 'do-nothing' scenario up to April. This is just confusion."
In response, DECC permanent secretary Moira Wallace put on her best Donald Rumsfeld impression, admitting the department has no idea how many people would have installed solar panels if the cuts had been held until April instead of December because of the rush of people now trying to meet the deadline this month.
Thankfully, Dr Alan Whitehead MP heroically stepped in to solve the confusion with an intriguing apple-based allegory that only succeeded in confusing the heck out of Greg Barker.
The puzzled climate minister grumbled, they weren't "comparing apples with apples."
But Whitehead kept cool and continued.
"So the best available information," Whitehead mused. "The available apple, as opposed to the possible apple, compared with the actual apple that you have submitted to us, appears to be below that spend line over the period up to 2015.
"Would that be a reasonable conclusion?"
Now, we thought we had it down: the difference is that DECC uses figures based on a "do-nothing scenario" and the industry is basing its numbers on a delay of a few months.
But, frankly, all these fruits are confusing the issue. And anyway, we rather suspect the solar industry will find a Brucie maxim more relevant. After all, "you get nothing for a pear, not in this game."
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