West Lancashire Borough Council and a large number of its tenants are reaping the benefits of solar panels installed on their homes.
Panels were installed by the Council on 588 of its properties in different parts of the borough. Work began on the project in late 2015 and was completed in January 2016.
The Council expect the environmentally-friendly technology could potentially save tenants an average of between £100 and £200 on their annual electricity bills. Many are delighted with the results, and some are saving even more.
In a survey by the Council one person said: “I am extremely satisfied with the solar panels as they have reduced my electricity direct debit by £24 per month.”
Another said they were: “Glad to save money and help the fragile world in any small way possible”, while others also said the panels were helping with bills.
The panels work by generating electricity during daylight hours which can be used by the tenant with no charge from the Council. This significantly reduces the amount of electricity tenants consume from the National Grid, and reduces energy bills.
As a whole the project has already generated enough power to fuel 364 homes for an entire year, based on average use according to OFGEM.
The Council carried out the scheme under the Government’s Feed-in Tariff scheme, which will pay the Council for the electricity the solar panel systems generate, regardless of whether it’s used in the tenants’ homes or not.
Over time, this income will pay back the £1.928m capital cost of installing the panels and provide a return on investment to support Council services in future years. The authority has already received in excess of just over a £100,000 through the scheme.
Councillor Jenny Patterson, portfolio holder for Housing and Landlord Services, said: “This scheme is already proving to be excellent value for money for tenants and the Council. As well as helping the tenants financially the solar panels are generating income for the authority and will continue to do so for many years to come.
“The scheme also fits in with the Council Plan and our priority to work with communities and partners to protect and improve our environment.
“We had hoped to help an even larger number of tenants through this scheme, but unfortunately we could only install solar panels in 588 homes before the Feed-in Tariff was reduced by Central Government and then the initiative became uneconomic for the Council. We are sorry we could not do more, but the scheme had to be financially viable for the Council. ”