Installers critical to RHI take up

Installers critical to RHI take up

As the world’s first long-term financial support programme for domestic renewable heating technologies, all eyes will be on the Government’s newly launched Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) to see whether it really can deliver an increase in the generation of heat from renewable sources, and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
Installers and heat engineers will be on the front line of the heating industry, to ensure the scheme is a success.  They will play a critical role in making sure homeowners are aware of the incentives available and are able to cash in, says Jonathan Tedstone product manager at Baxi.
In December 2013 the Department for Energy and Climate Change(DECC) finalised its plans for the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), and publicised information about the tariffs available for owners of renewable heat technology with guidelines on who would be eligible for payments through the scheme.  For the RHI to work, this information must be filtered down to the homeowners who will benefit from the scheme, and this means enlisting the support of the installers who work on the front line with customers every day.
First and foremost, for any installer venturing into the renewable sector, training is a must and becoming an MCS (Microgeneration Certification Scheme) approved installer should be a priority. To be eligible for many of the incentives such as the Green Deal and RHI, both the installer and technology must be MCS accredited.  Details of the Baxi MCS course can be found at www.baxitraining.co.uk.
After the scheme goes live in the Spring, it will be crucial that installers give their new customers information about the RHI upfront.  Applications for technologies installed after the launch date must be submitted within a year of commissioning otherwise those homeowners will miss the opportunity to sign up.  This could cause major issues if homeowners are only able to afford renewable heating solutions as a result of RHI payments.
If a customer is having a biomass boiler fitted, the installer will also need to advise them of their nearest approved fuel supplier.  From Autumn 2014, biomass boiler owners will need to commit to buying fuel from suppliers on the Biomass Suppliers List to quality for the RHI.
To ensure early adopters of the technologies don’t miss out, DECC has included a provision for legacy applications.  This means that homeowners who have had a biomass boiler, air source heat pump, ground source heat pump or solar thermal system installed since 15 July 2009 may still be able to claim for payments under the scheme.  These customers will need to act fast though, as legacy applications will only be accepted in the first year of the scheme – thereafter, only new installations will qualify.
For installers who have fitted qualifying products since July 2009, it would be due diligence to contact past customers to ensure they are aware of the new RHI scheme and to offer some further information so they have the opportunity to sign up before the 12-month deadline expires.
It is worth noting when speaking to current and past customers about RHI that the cost of the installation must have been at least paid for in part by the owner/tenant if they are to make a claim for payments.  Publically funded installations – including those fitted through the ECO scheme – will have any monies contributed by the Government deducted from future payments so they are not subsidised twice.
Once an installer or heating engineer is familiar with the guidelines and tariffs, it is by no means job done.  They will need to continually monitor the scheme as tariff payments are reviewed every quarter as part of measures to ensure the Government scheme stays within budget.
A digression policy has been put in place to protect the funding from sudden surges in new applications.  The DECC will drop the tariff by 10 per cent if a ‘trigger’ figure for the number of applications received for a particular heating technology is reached.  If the jump is significant enough to hit a ‘super trigger’ number of applications, the tariff drops by 20 per cent.  The lower tariff will apply to new applications only.
Installers can give prospective customers who would like to apply for RHI payments advanced warning of when tariff decreases may be imminent by proactively checking the monthly updates of progress towards the triggers that will be published on the gov.uk website.
Although the rules surrounding tariff payments are not particularly complex, installers need to familiarise themselves with the final guidelines of the scheme so they are equipped with the necessary expertise to ensure their renewable heat technology customers – past and present – are reaping the rewards of the RHI and not being left out in the cold.