Solar Trade Association at centre of spin storm after PR gaffe

by Search Gate staff. Published Wed 04 Dec 2013 18:28, Last updated: 2013-12-04
STA causes more confusion with press release wording

The UK Solar Trade Association has been accused of scoring a spectacular own goal tonight after highlighting how the Government was to pay out more than the industry had requested in the form of subsidy support.

While the rest of the renewable energy industry was bolstered by the positive package of measures announced today by The Treasury, the STA created yet further confusion by appearing to say the strike price for the solar PV industry was actually too much.

Following the mid-afternoon delivery of the STA press release, the Daily Telegraph picked up on the angle and ran a damaging story under the headline “Consumers to pay 10 per cent too much for solar farms as subsidies 'too high'”.

The story went on to state: “Energy consumers to pay millions of pounds too much for solar farms after government sets subsidies too high”.

It also reported: “The Solar Trade Association said on Wednesday it 'can't understand why' ministers rejected its suggestion to cut subsidies further – reducing the cost of ‘green levies’ on consumer energy bills.”

The first paragraph of the STA press release had accurately pointed out that “the confirmed strike prices for Contracts for Difference (CfDs) through to 2017 are less than the STA asked for, but from 2017 to 2019 they are actually higher than we asked for”.

Former STA chairman Howard Johns of Southern Solar, told Search Gate: “This is another classic example of spin and manipulation .

“It doesn't help the public to understand the true picture when they are constantly being told that they are being ripped off on their energy bills because of solar – if anything the opposite is happening.

“This is perhaps a PR own goal by the STA, but that doesn’t excuse the cherry-picking of facts to promote one side of the debate. In fact the early years of the CfDs are lower than the prices that the STA asked for so it really is only one side of the story

“It is important for the consumer market to know and understand that the intended strike price announced today for solar PV is actually below what the industry asked for before 2017 and above what we asked for after 2017.

“The other key point is that the prices paid for PV will be far less than the deal signed up for new nuclear recently by the time it starts generating – and those tariffs are fixed for 35 years. Unlike nuclear and fossil fuels the price of solar is still coming down.”

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