An amendment to the Energy Bill which would have extended the grace period for the early closure of the Renewables Obligation (RO) to onshore wind has been voted down in the Commons.
The Lords voted in favour of the amendment in a session last week. It was tabled by Lord Grantchester who said it would cover “projects that have achieved democratic local consent for their development at a planning committee on or before 18 June 2015 but received Section 75 in Scotland and Section 106 in England and Wales agreement after that date”.
The amendment has now been defeated in the Commons, with 293 members voting to get rid of it and 224 voting to keep it.
Speaking ahead of the vote energy minister Andrea Leadsom said 18 June 2015 had been set out as “a clear, bright line” and that “tampering with such an integral part of the early closure policy at such a late stage in its development simply will not do”.
She said government had a mandate to cut costs for customers and that in making another 90MW of onshore generation eligible for the RO, the amendment would reduce the savings from early closure “by something in the region of £10 million per annum”. The minister noted that the early closure as a whole was expected to save £20 million a year.
Shadow energy minister Alan Whitehead said the amendment highlighted “a particularly egregious inequity in the grace-period scheme”. He said it would aid developers who had “done the right thing” by “determinedly gone through the local process and engaged with it, rather than standing back and waiting to progress through an appeal”.
The bill is currently at the ping-pong stage meaning it will now return to the Lords. If they accept the changes made in the Commons the bill will then receive royal assent and become law. Last week the government confirmed that early closure of the RO would not be enforced retroactively after the planned closure date passed before that could happen.