In response to media requests for comment about correction and apologies offered by the Department, The Renewable Heat Association of Northern Ireland (RHANI), a not-for-profit organisation which represents those individuals and companies which invested in renewable technology for ethical and appropriate reasons said:

RHANI has always taken the line that the release of the names of the participants is a distraction and a deflection from the core argument which is about the design and management of a scheme which provided incentives for adopting renewable energy.

Our members are disappointed and concerned by the errors made by the Department for the Economy when releasing the names of Limited companies and other organisations who are participants in the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme. These errors are a major cause for concern and they risk causing harm and distress to the companies and individuals involved.  It is our understanding that list published by the Department has been updated on at least three separate occasions since 16th March and that, even before publication, individuals in the Department knew that the information was wrong and that to publish it was unsafe. Errors include incorrect payment amounts, incorrect company names and inclusion of names of individuals who, as private citizens, should not have been identified.

The errors of fact are significant – an over-reporting in one instance by ten times the actual sum involved and with no indication of what period was involved or what the annual charge had been.  As local politicians have commented, these critical failings in record keeping and reporting impact upon the credibility of all financial statistics presented by the Department.

RHANI is very concerned that, without any consultation with scheme participants, the Department had introduced controls on repayments which can be claimed by scheme participants.  This measure will impact hardest on those who made the vast capital investment to replace oil and liquid petroleum gas fuelled systems with biomass boilers.  In many cases, RHANI members had borrowed from their banks to make the change.  One member invested £1.3M in a sustainable energy system. A scheme member who accepted the government incentive and made a colossal capital investment may now receive £0.015 per kilowatt hour.

On 7th March, the Department was ordered to pay the Renewable Heat Association’s legal costs when the Court found former Economy Minister Simon Hamilton’s decision to publish individual recipients’ names was unlawful.  In his ruling, the judge gave direction to the Department as to how it should handle all future publication of the names of scheme participants.

RHANI will continue to represent the interests of scheme participants who are legitimate, ethical users of renewable energy and who were encouraged and incentivised by the Department and other government agencies to join this government promoted green- energy scheme.

Notes to Editor

  • The Renewable Heat Incentive scheme was launched in Northern Ireland following the success of the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme in Great Britain, which is still in operation and open to entrants.
  • Participants of the Renewable Heat Incentive entered a scheme legitimately which was designed and promoted by the Government in Northern Ireland.
  • A trial date has been set for June to hear the Association’s judicial review of the decision to introduce emergency legislation relating to the Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme.
  • The Department’s website notification of changes to the scheme.