I spent Tuesday at the NEC in Birmingham, visiting an exhibition entitled RetroExpo. Running inside it was a Green Deal Summit which featured a number of Green Deal(GD) notables working through their PowerPoints. That's not to be disparaging about them, there were lots of very distinguished speakers, and the exhibition is to be congratulated for assembling them all together in one place. Surely, now was the chance to learn something significant about GD?
Well maybe, maybe not. I've yet to write anything enthusiastic about GD and my feelings haven't changed much as a result of Tuesday's deliberations. For a start, it's damned complicated, so complicated that presenters kept flashing up organisation charts only to quickly withdraw them because they were too difficult to explain. Not encouraging.
It seems to get a GD going, you have to start with an assessor coming to visit your property and carrying out a survey. How much will this cost? Various answers from £130 down to nothing. If it's nothing, that tends to suggest that the assessor will be a tied agent. Would you trust such a person to carry out an independent survey? I wouldn't.
Anyway, stage two is to put the survey results into effect. There is much talk of the Golden Rule which means that the works to be undertaken have to payback in 10 years. Or is it 25? Or something else? I'm afraid I still don't know. And do you have to take the GD Finance Deal (at somewhere between 6% and 8% APR — again no one can say for sure)? What if you decide to arrange your own finance, or just pay for it from savings, is it still a green deal, and will you get the guarantee? No one could answer these either.
How much will it all cost? It was here that I did learn something new although it still didn't fill me with confidence. The government has announced some kick start money to get the GD off the ground. I though this was just window dressing, but it turns out this may just be the start and that the energy companies will soon start to subsidise GD works in the way they have been doing cavity wall and loft insulation. They are required by law to undertake carbon saving measures, expressed in tonnes of carbon per annum (it's different for each company, depending on their size). Some of this carbon-saving cash is probably going to filter through to GD providers and it may end up subsidising works such as external wall insulation (EWI), which on their own are very unlikely to ever meet the Golden Rule.
So, for instance, if EWI is estimated to cost £10,000, and the expected saving is, say, £300/annum, then the householder might only have to pay £3,000 (which gets roughly a 10 year payback), with the other £7,000 being paid for via an energy company subsidy - or ECO as it's getting called. Or at least I think that's what ECO is — once again the slippery nature of the GD makes it hard to know what is what. Was ECO a fund or a mechanism? Or both?
If I am right, then you really need someone else acting as a broker, who could fit your job together with the appropriate energy company, the one who is offering the best subsidy for this kind of work.
At least, I think that may be how it will work. I could also be completely wrong. But then, if I am, I will not be alone.
I came away surprised by:
a) how much I already knew about the Green Deal — I kept thinking "I know that" — but
b) how much I didn't understand — like how is it all going to work.
I wish it well, but I don't think the runes are looking too helpful.