RHI: Stormont apology after company wrongly listed as making 10 times more from scheme

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A Stormont department has apologised after stating that a company received 10 times more money under the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme than it actually did.

In publishing a list of businesses availing of the controversial green energy subsidy earlier this month, the Department for the Economy incorrectly said Ballymena-based Stephens Catering ran five RHI boilers and had been paid a total of £228,862.38.

The Department for the Economy issued a statement on Friday morning

The Department for the Economy issued a statement on Friday morning

It has now amended the list to reflect that the catering equipment company only has one RHI boiler and has received £20,252.76.

A departmental statement said: "The Department wishes to apologise for any distress or inconvenience that has been caused by incorrect information being published."

No wrongdoing was alleged against any business or organisation named on the department's list.

Managing director at Stephens Catering Paul Caves said: "People make mistakes, we are just glad it has now been rectified.

"It has taken a while to come but at least it has now come eventually.

"We hope our reputation hasn't been damaged too badly and now we can move on and get on with doing what we do - supplying and servicing catering equipment.

"At least it has now been rectified and I appreciate that."

READ MORE: Update: Revised list of non-domestic RHI claimants
The Department for the Economy won a court case earlier this month after some boiler owners challenged plans to publish the names.

While companies who availed of the scheme have been named, individual recipients have not as yet.

The Department statement said it was working on a separate list containing the names of the individuals who are in receipt of payments of £5,000 or more.

It added: "This will be published as soon as possible."

Former DUP first minister Arlene Foster established the RHI scheme in 2012 when she was enterprise minister in a bid to move from fossil to renewable energy sources.

However, flaws in the scheme's design meant recipients were able to earn more than it cost to fuel the boilers, leading to allegations of a "cash for ash" scandal.

The overspend has been estimated at £490 million over the next 20 years, though a former DUP economy minister has taken steps to try to mitigate that commitment.

The late former Sinn Fein deputy first minister Martin McGuinness asked Mrs Foster to stand aside. When she refused, he resigned and collapsed the power-sharing institutions.

A new coalition government has still not been formed almost a month on from the subsequent snap Assembly election.

A public inquiry into the RHI will be led by retired judge Sir Patrick Coghlin, with the first session expected in April.

It will consider allegations that political pressure was applied to delay the closure of the scheme as problems became apparent.