Peterborough to speed up free solar panel scheme

Peterborough City Council is extending its free solar panel scheme to homes across the city in a bid to beat the proposed subsidy cuts.

The local authority is urging residents to act quickly as solar arrays must be installed by the end of the year when the scheme will now end. 

The short time frame follows a government announcement to significantly reduce the Feed-in Tariff rates for solar PV installations next year. 

A separate agreement has also been signed with Axiom Housing Association to fit solar panels on their properties. 

A community fund has been established that benefits from a percentage of the money the scheme generates. That fund could total around £1million over the 20 years of the scheme, if residents act quickly and panels are installed on 1,500 properties.

In addition, the council would expect to generate in the region of £1million during the same period if this number of properties was achieved. 

"Unexpectedly the Government looks like it's going to reduce the Feed-in Tariffs by almost 90 per cent - which is a subsidy they pay to people who produce solar energy,” said council leader, Cllr John Holdich.

"So we need to act quickly and get as many free solar panels as possible on residents' roofs by the end of the year to take advantage of the current tariff.

"This had been limited to areas in central Peterborough but to get the maximum benefit for residents and the city as a whole we've decided to open it up to everyone.

"There will be a lot of effort put in over the next three months to assess roof suitability and get as many systems installed as possible. So get in touch now and benefit from reduced energy bills over the next 20 years without spending anything!"

The scheme is being backed by all political groups at the council who are supporting the drive to roll-out the initiative city-wide. 

The leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Peterborough City Council, Cllr Nick Sandford, said: “Having solar panels on your roof is really empowering: it enables you to generate your own electricity and reduce your energy bills. And under this scheme it won’t cost you a penny. 

"But it’s important to act quickly as the Government subsidies will be gone by the end of this year.”

Jamie Hailstone is a freelance journalist and author, specializing in local government, transport and energy issues