What if they gave a government program and nobody came?
Britain’s coalition government adopted the “Green Deal” as part of its scheme to reduce UK carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. The plan provides loans of up to £10,000 to property owners for insulation and energy improvements with a goal of insulating and “greening” 14 million homes by 2020. There are no up-front costs, rather the “deal” provides loans which are to be repaid over up to 25 years through higher utility rates.
Although the deal includes a “golden rule” which projects that property owners savings should eventually outweigh the costs, not one person has yet taken the deal (let alone 14 million). Participation in the deal begins with a property assessment. In a response to a written inquiry, Energy Minister Greg Barker conceded that “while we understand a number of appointments for the in-property assessments have been made, no assessments have yet been lodged on the register.” Barker previously boasted the Green Deal would prove “the biggest home improvement programme since the Second World War.”
Not only property owners and tenants are wary of the Green Deal as few businesses have signed on to become Green Deal providers.
The Daily Telegraph proclaimed the Green Deal “in tatters” and reported that:
Brian Berry, the chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders, said: “Only one building company [that is a FMB member] has signed up to become an installer out of 10,000 because that demonstrates the lack of a market.”
The Government’s official register of Green Deal installers, providers and assessors – including non-FMB members – shows that just under 300 companies have signed up to be involved.
The Cameron – Clegg coalition government is learning the hard way that when left free to choose, it is difficult to entice people to accept higher rates in exchange for savings decades later — if savings materialize at all.
There are benefits to be gained through energy efficiency, but government programs are seldom the answer. The government was unable to entice anyone into the program despite sweetening the deal with £125 million in public funds available in cashback to early participants. We predict further sweeteners and advertising campaigns ahead. If these fail, let’s hope the government doesn’t turn to coercive penalties, taxes or fees to drive the unwilling into the scheme.
Perhaps UK citizens would be more willing to accept a deal which includes rate increases if Britain’s alternative energy schemes weren’t already driving rates painfully higher.
In April, Prime Minister Cameron told a meeting, “when I became prime minister I said I would aim to have the greenest government ever and this is exactly what we have.” So far, UK householders aren’t following his lead, nor do voters seem prepared to reward his efforts, greenest or not.
No one has yet to take the “Green Deal” despite government projections of the following savings: