The Lights Go Out For Kernow Solar Farm

Tomorrow’s Cornwall Council Cabinet has one or two interesting items on the agenda. One of these items is the Kernow Solar Farm and its future. The simple answer is it has no future now; as since the Governments change to the Feed in Tariff (FiT) this Solar Farm is now not financially viable.

I blogged about this proposals 11 months ago and how the Cabinet authorized the spending of £14m on this scheme. This after the initial costs of £10m proved to be wildly wrong. At this meeting back in October 2010 I made the point of what happen if the FiT changed, and why spend the money if the project has no chance of being a reality. In defence, the original price was ‘guaranteed’ till March 2012, but this turned out to be August 2011 after the Government carried out its fast-tracked review.

In the agenda papers for tomorrow it has a recommendation for this ‘ear-marked’ money (£14m) is to be transferred into another solar panel project(s) of those under 50kw. Currently, this size of scheme still has a generous 32.9p per unit, from 43.3p in the original FiT. For interest, the schemes over 50kw have a FiT of 8.5p from 19p. These solar panels could be fitted to council owned building like schools, sports centres and offices. Which on the face of things seems like a good idea if it saves money.

In the report there is a warning that the Government is reviewing the under 50kw FiT, and one of the extreme results could be this generous FiT completely stops. As the current prices is only guaranteed until March 2012. So Cornwall Council better get its skates on if it does not want to end up in the same position as it found itself with Kernow Solar Park.

However, in the reports recommendations the figure of up to £15m is set to be authorized for this project. This is an extra million pounds that’s been added to the scheme. OK, it says up to, but that generally means it will be £15m. Again, it shows that when the Cabinet wants to find money it can easily lay its hand on the cash, but when services like Adult Social Care, Supporting People, Concessionary Fares, etc need money, the coffers seems to be firmly shut, or empty.

If you think about it, the budget is more because if you include all the officer time, planning costs and other associated costs for the development of Kernow Solar Farm. These will amount to quite a lot, but, there is still the original £14m in the pot.  Oh, and the extra million.

It makes you think what the priorities at Cornwall Council are.

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