Welsh Council drops solar panel scheme

Carmarthenshire County Council has abandoned plans to install solar panels on council homes as subsidy cuts loom.

The Welsh council was proposed to install solar panels on around 2,700 of its homes, but announced on September 10 that if UK Government proposals to cut the FIT rate go ahead in January the project would be “unviable”.

In a statement, the local authority said its housing teams are now looking at other ways to help tenants save money on their fuel bills and improve the energy efficiency of its homes through the Carmarthenshire Homes Standard Plus.

The council had been working with Gen Community to develop the solar panel programme and establish a community fund to pool the income from the domestic feed-in tariff.

“Unfortunately the Government recently announced in a consultation that they intend to cut the feed-in tariff drastically from 12.47p to 1.63p as from January 2016. This is much more than anyone anticipated,” said Executive Board Member for Housing, Cllr Linda Evans.

“Regrettably, this means we will not be able to deliver on plans to install solar panels on our homes as the programme has become unviable. 

“The present Executive Board, the previous Executive Board, and officers, worked hard to get this project together and we are all extremely disappointed. I am writing to the Welsh ministers and the minister in London expressing our concerns in Carmarthenshire.

“We appreciate this is also disappointing for many of our tenants, but we wish to reassure everyone that we will continue working on alternative ways to help people save money on their energy bills.”

Installation of panels on a range of corporate buildings, including schools and offices, will go ahead as planned as these can currently be pre-registered before the October 1 cut-off point.

Cllr David Jenkins, Executive Board Member for Resources, said: “We’re pleased that we’re able to continue with our plans to install solar panels on non-housing property. We are currently preparing buildings, and hope that we will start making savings on energy very soon.”

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