Renewable energy incentive scheme extended

Enterprise Minster Jonathan Bell
Enterprise Minster Jonathan Bell

An incentive scheme to encourage renewable energy use has been extended for another two weeks.

Economy Minister Jonathan Bell unexpectedly closed the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme late last week, citing budgetary pressures.

Installation firms have said jobs will be put at risk.

Mr Bell said: “I have listened carefully to the concerns expressed in relation to both the non-domestic and domestic RHI schemes and I fully appreciate that closure presents considerable difficulties for those who have invested in new technology and are in the midst of preparing for application.

“Having taken those concerns on board, rather than close the schemes to new applications on the earliest possible date, I am proposing that, pending Assembly approval, both schemes remain open for a further two weeks until 29 February.”

He has asked officials to investigate whether the scheme was run properly.

A cut in central government funding for renewable energy provision and a huge spike in demand for the scheme late last year prompted the move to shut it down ahead of schedule.

Mr Bell told the Assembly on Tuesday that if he had not acted the Executive could have faced an overspend bill totalling £27 million.