SCOTLAND’S greatest science fiction writer claims he has been short-changed out of thousands of pounds after putting solar panels on his roof.
Iain Banks, who penned The Wasp Factory, The Crow Road – and as Iain M Banks – the best-selling Culture sci-fi series – spent £8,000 on the panels.
He says the energy regulator Ofgem said he would be paid 21p for every kilowatt hour (KWh) of green energy he generated.
But Banks is furious over a “bizarre and unjust” decision by Ofgem to cut the payment to 9p.
Instead of earning £16,000 over 25 years, Banks says he will be lucky to pay off the cost of the panels at his home in North Queensferry, Fife.
He reckons his well-intentioned green move will leave him as much as £10,000 out of pocket.
Banks is appealing Ofgem’s decision, which was apparently due to an “minor administrative” error by the company acting on his behalf.
He said: ”I recently got some solar panels fitted but I’m awaiting an appeal to Ofgenm after a mix-up over a number left off an official form.
“Ofgem decided to put me on a much lower tariff.
“But as the mistake, if there was one, wasn’t my fault and this would have implications stretching over the 20-year-plus lifespan of the system, this just seems bizarre and unjust.”
The government subsidises people who produce solar power to help pay for the cost of installation.
The energy is given a rate called the feed-in tariff, which is based on the property’s energy efficiency.
Banks’s 14 solar panels can produce around 3,000 kWh of energy every year, and an assessment of his home found he was eligible for the 21p tariff.
This meant he would make about £16,000 over 25 years, but when energy firm Ecotricity submitted the report to Ofgem the regulator said a number was missing.
He was instead put on the lower 9p tariff, meaning he will make around £6,750.
In 2008 the author revealed he gave up his fleet of sports cars to boost his green credentials.
He said recently he only has two cars which are “both small, diesel-powered and regularly achieve 60 mpg”.
A spokesman for Ofgem said: “We can confirm that we have received a letter regarding solar PV installation. We cannot comment further as it is part of a dispute resolution process.”
Banks’ latest novel, Stonemouth, depicts a young man who has been exiled from his home town making a return after five years for a funeral.
He was due to speak at this year’s Edinburgh International Book festival last night (thur).