Guest essay by Eric Worrall
h/t Breitbart – The Times reports that a badly designed British biomass subsidy has led to a gold rush of people cashing in, by heating empty buildings.
Taxpayers face £1bn bill over green energy subsidy scandal
A botched green energy scheme that has ignited a political crisis is on course to cost taxpayers more than £1 billion.
The Treasury faces the bill after a massive overspend on subsidies encouraging farmers and businesses in Northern Ireland to run eco-friendly power schemes. The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) was supposed to cost £25 million in its first five years but the bill is likely to reach £1.15 billion over 20 years.
The Treasury can claw back £490 million from the block grant to Northern Ireland, leaving £660 million to be financed by taxpayers in England, Scotland and Wales. The scandal threatens the future of Northern Ireland’s first minister Arlene Foster, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). She was the minister responsible when the scheme was set up in 2012. It was intended to boost renewable energy, but critics say Mrs Foster and her officials did not cap costs.
Businesses that signed up could receive £160 from the government for every £100 they spent on fuels, such as wood pellets, burnt in biomass boilers. As people spotted the gains to be made, there was a surge in applications and costs spiralled.
Flaws in the scheme were exposed by a whistleblower who said businesses were buying biomass boilers solely to collect the subsidy. The whistleblower alleged that one farmer expected to make £1 million over 20 years for using a biomass boiler to heat an empty shed, while heating a number of empty factories would net their owner £1.5 million.
Read more (Requires Free Registration): http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/61055f62-d132-11e6-b721-fbd88801f92d
To me this farce illustrates the utter chaos of British green energy politics.
Clean air laws passed in the 1950s discouraged use of biomass and coal for heating. The laws were widely ignored when I lived in Britain, pretty much everyone on my street had a coal burner, to try to escape skyrocketing gas and electricity costs. But the laws are nevertheless still on the statute books, and I have heard they are rigorously enforced in really high density urban areas.
Now thanks to this botched subsidy, businesses in Northern Ireland are being paid so much to burn smoky biomass fuel, mostly imported from the USA (Britain doesn’t have enough forests to keep up supply), that it is worth their while to heat empty buildings, just to collect the subsidy.
You couldn’t make it up.