The SNP’s Westminster Energy spokesman Mike Weir MP has given a cautious welcome to the promise from UK Energy Minister Greg Barker that the UK government will make progress in extending the Energy Company Obligation schemes to include home fuel oil and LPG boilers.
Weir has campaigned for those off the gas grid to be treated equally with those who are connected to the gas mains after discovering that none of the Big Six UK energy companies included replacement gas boilers in their ECO schemes.
In a recent question in the Westminster parliament, Weir asked: “One way to increase energy efficiency is to have modern boilers. The current affordable warrant schemes under the ECO, however, do not include home fuel oil or LPG boilers, discriminating against those in rural areas who are off the gas grid. The Minister has said that the coalition wants to do something for rural areas, so will he look again and ensure that, as he has promised before, all such schemes will be technologically neutral?”
In reply, Greg Barker, MP, said: “We take this issue very seriously. We are meeting suppliers again next month, and I can assure the hon. Gentleman that there will be progress. That has eluded Governments in the past, but we are determined to make progress.”
The Angus MP later added: “Those who are not connected to mains gas are too often left out of consideration when governments are looking at issues of fuel poverty and energy efficiency. Many of such homes are often of older construction and harder to heat than more modern homes.
“There are many thousands of consumers throughout Scotland who are not connected to the mains gas grid and never will be, including many in the more rural areas.
“It is utterly shocking that none of the Big 6 energy companies have included the replacement of aged LPG and Home Fuel Oil boilers in their schemes under the Energy Company Obligation.
“Ministers have previously claimed that the schemes were technology neutral, which is clearly not the case if technologies used in rural areas are excluded. I have repeatedly pressed ministers on this matter and I am pleased that, finally, they seem to be getting the message and looking at this issue.”