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“Dear Aunty, is it fair for taxpayers to subsidise Balcombe’s solar power ambitions?”

Now, that’s a very good question, isn’t my dears?

But before I answer that, let’s just look at what they’re trying to achieve in the affluent, stockbroker belt village of Balcombe.

According to a Channel 4 report today, 17 April 2014, a group of Balcombe residents is attempting to make the village self-sufficient in electricity in the next few years, starting by installing solar panels on commercial properties.

The Channel 4 report says that it’s going to cost around £2.8 million to provide electricity to 760 Balcombe homes, sweeties. That’s over £3,600 per home.

That’s a lot of money overall, isn’t it poppets?

Is that affordable?

The Channel 4 report suggests that the RePower Balcombe scheme will be an attractive investment for residents who will be guaranteed a 5% return over 20 years. How so? Well, through the payment of a Feed-In Tariff (FIT) subsidies from the Government of course, dears.

And where does that come from? That’s right – the rest of us. Some from general taxation and some from levies on household energy bills.

Is it fair for hard working people elsewhere in the UK, many of whom may already be in fuel poverty, to be subsidising the RePower Balcombe scheme so that just 760 affluent homes can meet their own electricity needs?

I don’t think it is. If the people of Balcombe genuinely want to take this step, they should do it for the right reasons (low carbon, self-sufficient etc) and fund it entirely without subsidy – it shouldn’t be about making a profit at our expense.

But here’s something else to ponder, pumpkins: what will Balcombe’s residents do for electricity at night, when solar panels supply no power? Rely on the grid, of course. And for heating and cooking? Continue to rely on gas (or, in some cases, continue to rely on heating oil).

£2.8m subsidised investment in technology that only works for half the day. Now that’s expensive sweeties.

Until next time xxx

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