Ipswich drops solar panel scheme

Ipswich Borough Council has abandoned plans to install solar panels on more than 2,000 council homes, blaming Government plans to cut subsidies.

The council’s executive scrapped the plans on 6 October after a council report said proposed cuts to the Feed-In-Tariff (FIT) would have a “major impact upon the feasibility” of the scheme.

The local authority has already completed two programmes to install solar PV panels on council buildings.

The first programme was completed in April 2012 and earns the council around £30,000 a year in FIT payments, as well as saving £8,000 in electricity costs per annum.

The second programme, which involved 12 sites, has generated a FIT income of approximately £52,000 a year. 

According to the report, the council had recently gone out to tender on a new scheme to install solar PV on around 2,000 council homes.

Under the current subsidy rules, it would have generated a net income of around £1.8m for the council over the lifetime of the FIT.

But the report adds Government plans to slash the Feed-In-Tariff rate would mean the “council would not see a return on its investment in the scheme at current installation rates”.

“The change in rules means our proposals are no longer viable,” said Housing Portfolio Holder, Cllr John Mowles.

“It’s the second time that the Government has changed the rules in this way. This is bad news for the council tax-payers and for 2,000 tenants. It’s a blow, too, to jobs in the solar energy industry."

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