SMART metering company Orsis UK has launched a campaign to introduce a separate feed-in tariff for social housing following the Government’s cuts to subsidies.
The Harrogate-based firm, which manufactures and supplies smart metering systems in homes and businesses across the UK, is lobbying MPs and the House of Lords to support the idea, which it says could reduce electricity bills, deliver a huge carbon footprint reduction, create jobs and provide investors with an attractive return on their investment.
The feed-in tariff (FiT) has been providing payments to owners of electricity-generating renewable energy technologies since 2010.
The generous initial rates of FiT meant the uptake of solar panels was faster than expected but in January the Government decided to cut the rates for solar PV by 65 per cent to control cost, leading to an estimated 2,000 job losses in the renewable energy industry.
Gareth Chantler, head of UK and international sales at Orsis, said: “Our response to the Department of Energy and Climate Change is rather than chopping the tariff and damaging the industry, why not look at solar PV as a solution?
“We want to see a separate social housing tariff which would bring extra benefits and help to alleviate fuel poverty, which is more prevalent in this sector.”
Orsis, which has a £1.9m turnover and employs 15 full time staff, plans to refine its idea in the coming weeks and put it into a proposal to issue to the Government.
“It’s such a no-brainer if you increase the rate slightly,” said Mr Chantler. “If you reduce people’s electricity bills, you will see health benefits, the sector will remain attractive to investors, it reduces the carbon footprint and decreases rent arrears.”
Social housing is a key focus for Orsis’s products and services.
It works with 50 local authorities and has installed 40,000 meters in the UK and overseas, including projects in Harrogate, Leeds and Barnsley.
The company moved into solar power and the social housing market five and a half years ago when it became clear that the Government’s much-lauded smart meter roll-out was falling further and further behind schedule.
The project requires energy suppliers to replace 53 million meters in 30 million homes and small businesses with “smart” electricity and gas meters by 2020.
Orsis initially won two major contracts to install meters into social housing projects in Stockport and Wrexham.
It now manufactures and installs the meters as well as monitoring energy consumption and carrying out impact assessments on renewable energy technology.
The firm has launched its Sunrise Portal software to enable users to view the metering data, which is updated every half an hour. It means owners of several properties can compare them against each other and check if they are generating as much electricity as predicted.
Another focus for the company is district heating. The Government is trying to increase the number of households connected to district heating networks – large boilers which provide heat for entire blocks of apartments or retirement villages through a network of heating pipes.
Orsis installs meters into individual homes, where viable, so that owners or tenants can keep control of their own bills.
Over the last 12 months, Orsis has expanded its services overseas, providing its installation and data monitoring services to companies around the world, including Poland, Dublin and India.