News and views from Paul Bull, the Labour and Co-operative Councillor for the St THOMAS Ward of Exeter City Council. Promoted by Dom Collins on behalf of Paul Bull, both of 26b, Clifton Hill, Exeter, EX1 2DJ.
A green-thinking council has won recognition at the highest level for its efforts to become an energy-neutral authority.
Exeter City Council beat off tough competition from dozens of other local authorities to win the Environment Award at last night’s Local Government Chronicle Awards in London.
Judges described Exeter’s submission as an “Excellent project, well-funded and supported and able to demonstrate achievements.”
The reward recognises the City Council’s work over recent years to reduce its carbon footprint and encourage others to do the same. By bringing in environmentally-friendly initiatives like solar panels and energy efficient lighting, the Council is able to save money and protect the environment at the same time.
The City Council is striving to become an energy neutral council by 2050.
Cllr Rachel Sutton, Lead Councillor for City Development, said: “I am delighted that the LGC has recognised the work we are doing at the City Council. Thanks to a whole host of green-thinking initiatives we will see a massive 37% reduction in energy consumption here at the Civic Centre and throughout our other buildings.”
The delivery of a vast programme of energy efficiency and solar PV projects, including some ground-breaking initiatives over the last year will bring about savings and a gross income of over £500,000 per annum. This is of huge benefit to the Council, reducing budgets and protecting Council services, as well as supporting the community and businesses.
Pioneering Solar PV canopies – the first of their kind in the UK – have been placed on two city centre car parks, and the latest installation is a 1.5MW array at the Council’s Livestock Centre. This is believed to be the largest roof top solar array in the South West, with 5,246 panels.
The PV array completed in December, follows the installation of a new roof on the building, funded by the savings and income generated by the solar panels. The array will produce 1,404mwh of energy a year, enough to power 335 homes and save 790 tonnes of carbon a year.
The Council also recently completed a solar PV installation at the former Electricity Building – now the Quay Climbing Centre – which enables the Council to sell renewable energy generated at a discounted price to the leaseholder. A second scheme of this type has also benefited the Exeter CVS at Wat Tyler House.
Other highlights have seen the City Council install Park & Plug car charging points in car parks around the City and the local authority’s involvement in the setting up of district heating networks like the one at Exeter Skypark and in the near future at the Monkerton housing development.
Earlier tonight, Exeter City Council met in the Guildhall to set the Council’s budget for 2016-17.
There has been a series of meeting that contributed towards the setting of the Budget since the Government announced the provisional Local Government Settlement on 17 December 2015. The Council is to receive £5.802 million in 2016/17, which is £110,000 lower than predicted within the Medium Term Financial Plan. However, it was decided NOT to revisit the budgets as the shortfall could be managed within the budget.
The Local Government Finance Settlement also set the referendum level for District Councils in the lowest quartile of Council Tax rates at no more than £5 rather than 1.99%. Exeter falls into this category and therefore has the opportunity to increase its Council Tax by £5 (3.7%). Along with the increase in the taxbase this will raise an additional £269,000.
It should be noted that in the Government spending calculations, they have assumed that all authorities in the lower quartile will raise their Council Tax by £5 and have set the spending reductions accordingly.
The Council’s revenue estimates for next year were considered during thecycle of Scrutiny Committee meetings and the final budget report was discussed at the Executive meeting on 9 February 2016.
Regulations dictates the Council holds an Extraordinary Meeting of the Council when setting its budget
In the absence of Leader Cllr Pete Edwards [LAB, Whipton Barton], the Budget speech was delivered by his Deputy, Cllr Rachel Sutton [LAB, Exwick].
Thank you Lord Mayor.
I would like to start off by paying thanks to the Officers, especially Mark Parkinson, Dave Hodgson and his team, for their help in preparing these figures, and indeed for their work throughout the year.
I would like to set the context for this year’s budget by reminding everyone – members, officers and the wider public – that the reductions in funding received by local authorities like Exeter over the last few years from central government are amongst the most severe cuts we have faced in living memory.
This Council has had a 12.6% reduction in Government Formula Grant for the year 2016/17 on top of equally drastic cuts in previous years. Last year it was a cut of 15.6%.
Between 2010 & 2015 Exeter’s government grant has dropped from £12m to £7.7m but Exeter, unlike some local authorities has not been sleep walking towards oblivion, we have been working hard to make the necessary changes and plans for a future when the money we get from central government will have been cut to a fraction of what it was if indeed it doesn’t disappear completely.
In the financial year 2014/15 we made £1.5m in savings, and we continue to streamline and modernise the services we offer to residents and businesses by finding smarter and more efficient ways of working like setting up Strata with our neighbouring councils to deliver IT services across three local authorities and gain financial savings of 7m over the next 10 years.
We are working with our partners in the NHS, the voluntary sector and at Devon County Council to offer the Integrated Care for Exeter [ICE] project that will deliver better services that meet the needs of our citizens and which will save money and resources across all the partner organisations.
But in setting the budget for 2016-17, I am proposing a balanced budget with much of the lost formula grant replaced by additional income streams guaranteed long into the future. These include the guaranteed income from the Feed In Tariff payments on solar panels fitted on the rooves of two of our Car Parks, the Museum, the Quay Climbing Centre, The Phoenix and the largest solar array in Exeter at over 7,000 panels at the Livestock Centre, which on its own will generate over £160,000 a year in income for the Council. And in addition to the financial savings we are reducing our carbon footprint .
In addition to these solar panels we have also replaced our inefficient boilers at the Civic Centre and installed LED lighting in our offices and car parks.
These projects have also delivered tangible savings without affecting front line service delivery.
Cllr Edwards joined the leaders of more than 50 Labour-run councils in pledging to make all our towns and cities across the UK 100% clean before 2050, in line with the commitments made nationally and internationally at the Paris Summit on Climate Change in December 2015.
Our new and emerging partnership with Exeter City Futures and our own ambitious plans to be an energy neutral council by 2020 will go a long way to deliver the Leader’s Green Pledge.
We continue to deliver much needed housing:
In the last year we have built 26 brand new council houses for local families and we are about to begin work on providing an additional 26 new flats for older people next door to Rennes House
Since 01 April 2014, 64 affordable homes have been delivered with 235 further affordable homes consented and in the pipeline for national house builders.
In Exeter we have seen 3,468 new homes built since 2011-12 – more than any other district in Devon, Plymouth and Torbay – earning the Council £10.2m in New Homes Bonus with a significant proportion of these new homes suitable for wheelchair users.
However it must be pointed out that the Housing & Planning Bill currently going through parliament might put much of these plans in jeopardy threatening our ability to make decisions about how we run our Housing Revenue Account and plan for future building of council houses
We have provided new floodlights for the new and improved Flowerpots Skatepark so that the young people who use it can get the maximum benefit from the facilities
New businesses are now moving on the Exeter Science Park
Work is now progressing on a landmark building to house the Met Office’s £97m High Performance Computer.
Job creation continues to increase with new businesses relocating to the city – our own team have helped create 476 jobs in the city.
We continue to be an ambitious Council and are determined to ensure that the City achieves its potential and our residents receive quality services. We continue to support the City ensuring it stays at the forefront of economic recovery and will support the delivery of:
• A new Leisure Complex built to Passivhaus standards that the City will be proud of
• A modernised Bus Station fit to meet the needs of travellers to and from the City for many years to come;
• Two major events in and around the City in 2016 have already been announced – the Radio 1 Big Weekend at Powderham Castle and the European Rugby sevens event at Sandy Park. The Rugby sevens event will be held at Sandy Park for the next three years and building on the success of the Rugby World Cup, last year will further enhance the reputation of the City.
And all this is without the need to increase our overall borrowing requirement.
As a Council we have also supported greater investment in the infrastructure of the City.
We have this year agreed to provide:
• £1.3 million towards the delivery of the new railway station at Marsh Barton;
• £1.025m towards the delivery of a fully operational junction at Sandy Park to enable further development in the area;
• Over £200,000 towards the improvement of our car parks and to provide a permanent electricity supply to Exeter Farmers market.
Finally, for next year’s budget we have made further efficiency savings in the region of £1.1m.
We have again managed to achieve this without a reduction in front line services.
Lord Mayor, Councillors – the budget that I am proposing to you this evening aims to deliver a balanced budget that will protect and maintain the services which the citizens of Exeter need the most.
I therefore propose to you the recommendation set out in the papers before you in terms of the approval of both the revenue estimates and capital programme for the year 2016/17 and which will result in the setting of a District Council tax of £140.05 for a Band D property.
This is an increase of £5 a year for a Band D property less than 10p a week and still means that Exeter sets the 4th lowest Council Tax of any district.
I so move.
There was then a debate on the Budget.
The Leader of the Tory Group, Cllr Andrew Leadbetter [CON, St Loye ] agreed that central Government were cutting funding – but at the same time were enabling local authorities to find other ways to raise money to fund revenue budgets
However, he felt that his group would have to abstain because, although there were some good things in the Budget, there were other things in it that he and group couldn’t support.
Cllr Phil Bialyk [LAB, Exwick]said that imaginative leadership is taking this Council forward. He was pleased that the Budget proposed by the Labour Group had no additional cuts to frontline Council services. He pointed out that there was all that extra investment – all for an extra fiver a year.
Cllr Rob Hannaford [LAB, St Thomas] pointed out that the Council were working to best practice. He thought that we are still leading the way in delivering an ambitious programme despite the risks in the future – reduced revenue support grant, challenges to the self-financing of Housing Revenue Account, welfare reform cuts, unexplained programme of business rate retention following a futrure NNDR revaluation, devolution, and more. He concluded that he would be supporting a good, balanced and robust Budget.
Cllr Rosie Denham [ LAB, Whipton Barton] looked at one element of the Budget – the role Exeter City Futures will make in the work of the Council and the impact that will have on all of us, and our residents. She was grateful for the cross-party support for the initiative and hopes that the project, by taking a strategic approach, would tackle concerns over traffic congestion, health and the environment. Rosie was adamant that we should always think carefully over proposed schemes, programmes and policies, and noted that we are in the incredibly lucky position to be able to come up with imaginative and creative ways to balance our Budget but we shouldn’t take any of this for granted. She concluded that other local authorities were so fortunate and was frightened for the state of the roads, the schools, heath and social care elsewhere.
Cllr Stella Brock [LD, St David’s] questioned the no cuts message of the Budget and questioned the spending on the Bus Station development site [having voted against it at the outline planning stage].
In reply, Cllr Sutton said that the changes to services highlighted by Cllr Brock were not cuts per se but changes to work in smarter and more efficient ways. Rachel also pointed out that without the planned interventions from ECC, the Bus Station development site wouldn’t have levered in an investment of over £75m from the Crown Estate and TH Real Estate and would remain a blot on the landscape of the city centre.
In concluding the debate, Cllr Sutton said she was disappointed that NO alternative proposals were coming forward from the Conservative Group, describing it as lazy opposition. Indeed, she pointed out that we know what they are against, but they never state what they are for.
The meeting voted and RESOLVED:-
(1) That the following, as submitted in the Estimates Book, be approved:-
(a) the Revenue estimates for 2016-2017
(b) the Capital programme for 2016-2017;
(2) that it be noted that, at the meeting of the Executive on the 26 January 2016, the Council calculated the figure of 35,429, as its council tax base for the year 2016-2017 in accordance with the Local Authorities (Calculation of Council Tax Base) (England) Regulations 2012 made under Section 33(5) of the Local Government Finance Act 1992;
(3) that the following amounts be now calculated by the Council for the year 2016-2017 in accordance with Sections 31A of the Local Government and Finance Act 1992:-
(a) £103,925,695 being the aggregate of the amounts which the Council estimates for the items set out in Section 31A(2)(a) to (f) of the Act;
(b) £98,963,864 being the aggregate of the amounts which the Council estimates for the items set out in Section 31A(3)(a) to (d) of the Act;
(c) £4,961,831 being the amount by which the aggregate at (3)(a) above exceeds the aggregate at (3)(b) above, calculated by the Council, in accordance with Section 31A(4) of the Act, as its council tax requirement for the year;
(d) £140.05 being the amount at (3)(c) above divided by the amount at 2 above, calculated by the Council, in accordance with Section 31B(1) of the Act, as the basic amount of its council tax for the year;
(e) Valuation Bands
(4) That it will be noted that, for the year 2016-2017, Devon County Council, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall and the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Authority have stated the following amounts on precepts issued to the Council, in accordance with Section 83 of the Local Government Act 2003, for each of the categories of the dwellings shown below:-Being the amount given by multiplying the amount at (3)(d) above by the number which, in the proportion set out in Section 5(1) of the Act, is applicable to dwellings listed in a particular valuation band divided by the number which in that proportion is applicable to dwellings listed in valuation band D, calculated by the Council, in accordance with Section 36(1) of the Act, as the amounts to be taken into account for the year in respect of categories of dwellings listed in different valuation bands.
Devon County Council
Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall
Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Authority
(5) That, having calculated the aggregate in each case of the amounts at (3)(e) and (4) above, the Council, in accordance with Section 30(2) of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, hereby set the following amounts as the amounts of council tax for the year 2016-2017 for each of the categories of dwellings shown below:-
Although the amended legislation came into force on 25 February 2014. there was anexpectation of the Government that authoritiesholding their annual budget meeting before this date will adopt the new ruling when setting their annual budget and council tax. ECC used a named vote at their budget setting meeting in 2015.
Cllr Bialyk, Cllr Branston, Cllr Brimble, Cllr Bull, Cllr Buswell, Cllr Choules, Cllr Denham, Cllr George, Cllr Hannaford, Cllr Hannan, Cllr Laws, Cllr Lyons, Cllr Morse, Cllr Owen, Cllr Packham, Cllr Pearson, Cllr Raybould, the Deputy Lord Mayor [Cllr Robson], Cllr Sheldon, Cllr Spackman, Cllr Sutton, Cllr Wardle, Cllr Vizard and Cllr Williams
Cllr Baldwin, the Lord Mayor [Cllr Foggin], Cllr Harvey, Cllr Holland, Cllr Leadbetter, Cllr Mottram, Cllr Newby, Cllr Prowse, Cllr Shiel and Cllr Thompson
Earlier this evening I seconded a motion, proposed by Cllr Catherine Dawson of Mincinglake condeming the Conservative/LibDem coalition governments sham consultatioj over the rushed plans to change the level of Feed-In Tariff payment to those installing solar PV panels on their roofs.
Announced at the end of October, the changes came into effect yesterday, 10 days before the end of a consultation on the matter.
The motion: This Council calls on the Government to reverse its cruel cuts to the tariff which will harm a lot of residents in Exeter.
They are planning to cut the tariff for solar PV installations with a capacity of 4KW or less by more than 50% from 43p/kWh to 21p/kWh. For multiple installations the rate falls to 16.8p/kWh.
Their rushed cuts to the Feed in tariff for solar PV goes too far, too fast, hits families trying to protect themselves from soaring energy bills, put thousands of jobs and businesses in the solar industry in jeopardy and give lie to the government’s promise to be the “greenest government ever”
My speech seconding the motion: My Lord Mayor
As a long-time supporter of Green causes, it gives me great pleasure to second this resolution.
And I’m pleased that this is on a day when there are protests outside Parliament asking the Government to Cut Not Kill the solar power industry and two days before a legal challenge to the changes
But first I must declare a couple of interests.
Earlier in the year, SunGift Solar installed a Solar PV system on our roof and it’s currently generating electricity.
I’d like to thank Sungift Solar for honouring their pledge to put up Exeter’s Christmas lights for free.
The change in payments under the FiT scheme has meant they’ve been extremely busy, trying to install 6 months’ worth of orders [some 50 systems or so] in 6 weeks.
I am also a member of the Labour Party – the Party that in April 2010 introduced the Feed-In Tariff scheme [which is commonly shortened to FiT]
The FiT scheme is a process used by over 40 countries around the world that pays people to generate electricity from solar photovoltaic [PV] panels funded by a small levy on all energy bills
When the FiT was introduced by Labour in April last year, the Uk belatedly joined the party in one of the fastest growing markets of any kind globally.
The Feed-in Tariff certainly isn’t perfect, but it’s been incredibly successful at getting panels on roofs.
This doesn’t just help people reduce their electricity bills and carbon emissions – there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence that seeing the panels in action (and reaping the rewards) can change the way people think about energy.
They then are more likely to make climate-friendly choices in other areas of their lives.
Yet back it when it was announced back in April 2010 it was criticised by the Conservative opposition.
Greg Clark, then Shadow Energy Secretary said: “FITs are essential to allow decentralised energy to play a major role in our energy mix, but Labour’s proposals today lack ambition.
“Ministers should have been bolder with this scheme so more jobs could have been created and greater reductions in emissions could have been achieved.”
But even before that, back in 2007, David Cameron welcomed FiT schemes when spoke [on video] to a Greenpeace conference.
Yes he was green. He was extremely green.
He was green with envy of the generous FiT scheme in Germany.
He saw how it was taking British-made technology and putting it on German roofs.
He wanted – and I quote –
“The right plans and the right political will to drive through a mass market for micro-generation”
So here’s a phrase I thought I’d never utter –
I AGREE WITH DAVID
In Opposition, both the Lib-Dems and Tories dismissed the Labour initiative as pitifully unambitious.
In Government, they pledged to do much more.
The Coalition Agreement even pledged to make FiT the centrepiece of their commitment to ‘community owned renewable energy generation’.
But you would never guess it now.
So what went wrong?
Were they got at by the Big 6 Energy Companies – and their paid lobbyists?
Did they listen to the Nuclear Industry – and their paid lobbyists?
All I know is that the solar energy industry was too busy putting solar PV panels on people roofs to have time to pay for lobbyists.
I’m proud of my green credentials to add to my socialist beliefs. I’m a Green Red
David seems to have taken his green thoughts, mixed them with his true blue blood and turned yellow.
I’m not criticising him for changing his mind – I’m criticising him for changing his mind from being so right to being so wrong.
Let’s look at some figures:
The UK solar energy industry employs 25,000 professionals compared with just 3,000 in 2010 The number of solar businesses has increased from 450 in 2010 to over 3,000 today Since the introduction of tariffs in 2010 a total of 87,769 solar installations have been completed in the UK
All of which could help the Tory Government meet its claim of being the greenest government yet – and at the same help the private sector create new jobs.
There are even more figures being bandied around about the cost of the FiT scheme.
I believe that might cost each household about £1.50 each year.
Ofgem, the energy regulator, confirms this estimate.
But is only might because other studies say the Treasury gets more back in tax and NI (from the jobs created) than it costs to run the scheme.
Either way, it is not a sum around which the economy will crumble
Greg Barker, Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change, isn’t sure what it will cost.
Each and every announcement seems to put the cost higher –
First £26, Then £28 but its assumed that was a slip of the tongue Then it went up to £55 and now rests around £80.
However, a figure that can’t be disputed is the one for decommissioning nuclear power stations.
The UK tax payer pays hundreds of times more than this towards the cost of decommissioning nuclear power stations and looking after the nuclear waste they generate.
According to the Government’s own figures, £6.93bn of taxpayers’ money was given to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority in 2010-2011.
That figure equates to £260 per household.
We talk about micro-generation but it can generate a lot of electricity
the energy generation of solar power now exceeds the 225 megawatts maximu operating capacity of the Oldbury nuclear power plant
The cuts to the Feed-In Tariff will deprive the UK of a booming green industry that is driving jobs growth and providing an environmentally sustainable and long-term alternative to other fossil-fuel dependent methods of electricity.
Already leading solar firm Carillion has confirmed that some 4,500 jobs are now under threat due to the planned cut to the subsidy.
Indeed the firm that put solar panels on the Kensington roof of the Prime Minister have already laid off 2 workers.
So rashly withdrawing support from this burgeoning industry will be disastrous for both our economy and the environment.
What might not be known is that from the start it was always planned that Feed-in Tariffs were supposed to decrease annually, as the price of technology falls.
Unlike nuclear, solar does not need subsidising forever.
That was part of attraction.
There would be staged reductions in in the tariff, down to zero within the decade.
These reductions in tariff were to have been there to fairly reflect falling solar prices, and were planned so as to be not be too deep to stall the development of a domestic UK solar industry.
Cutting so far and so fast as this Government has done will put thousands of solar workers out of a job and pull the rug out from under small community groups that have already poured time and effort into their projects, but don’t stand a chance of meeting the new deadline.
Take Brighton Energy Cooperative, which was due to start selling shares but has been forced to put the entire project on hold until further notice.
Reading Council announced that they’d be drastically scaling back their school solar programme.
Even this Council’s own programme for solar PV panels on nearly 500 council homes was in doubt – but thanks to quick negotiations from our officers that one, at least, was rescued
Do these cuts need to happen at all?
Unlike other government programmes, the FiT scheme isn’t funded from general taxation – the costs are covered by a levy on energy bills.
When the Labour government was designing the scheme, they came up with an estimate of how much it would cost, and planned to revisit this figure once they had some proper take-up data.
When the coalition came into power and kicked off the spending review, they took this estimate, cut it by 10% and set that as the overall budget for the whole programme.
It’s not clear why the scheme was included in the spending review at all, since it isn’t funded directly by the treasury and doesn’t increase the deficit; but whatever the reason, it means that the whole idea of a Fit ‘budget’ is an invention of this government.
Decisions like this are really just a question of priorities – if a government really wants to do something it wil always find a way of financing it.
But in any case the impact of the Feed-in Tariff is tiny compared to spiraling gas prices and energy companies’ profits
And even if we rule out any bill increases, there are plenty of other ways to meet the cost – from a direct levy on energy company profits, to reallocating money from other programmes that have underspent.
Yet it recently emerged that climate minister Chris Huhne never even asked the treasury whether they could provide emergency funding to allow the cuts to be phased in gradually.
The real measure of a government lies in the choices it makes when there’s no easy option. Ministers need to ask themselves: when all is said and done, will these cuts bring us closer to a truly low-carbon economy, or will they push it further over the horizon?
Any government that wants to be remembered as the “greenest ever” must put this question at the heart of every decision, but especially over this particular decision.
I say “From the greenest government ever to the meanest government ever”.
The co-coalition has done a huge U-turn and is now doing nothing less than demoralizing – and demonizing – the solar power industry as a matter of course.
Over the weekend I was speaking with Caroline Flint, Labour’s Shadow Energy Secretary and we agreed that history will record that Labour began this growth industry and the Tories will all but kill it off in its infancy if these mindless changes to the FiT scheme are not reversed.
It gives me great pleasure to second the resolution
A lively debate followed with the motion falling to a Lib Dem amendment suggesting sending comments from the City Council to the very consultation I believe is a sham – only passed by local Tories and Lib Dems voting together and the casting vote of the Lord Mayor.
For me, the most pleasing comment came from Deputy Leader of the Conservative Group, who commended Labour “Central Office” for supporting us both with all the facts and figures.
No James, that was all our own intelligent factual research! We both hae enquiring minds that we like to put to good use.
As soon as Exeter Council Council announced a partnership with E.ON to install solar PV panels of the roofs of ECC housing stock, the Government moved the goalposts.
On 31 October the Government announced that, due to the popularity of the scheme, the feed-in tariff for electricity generated by solar panels will now be cut. Social landlords will feel the brunt of this, with the cut slashing the tariff from 43p per kW/hour down to 16.8p per kW/hour for any schemes which are not complete by 12 December 2011. This FIT payment is more than a 50% reduction on the original sum. This comes on top of the predicted cut due to come into force on 1 April 2012.
In light of this, and following on from the email you received last week, the provision of solar panels to Exeter City Council properties is now on hiatus whilst E.ON reviews whether it will now be financially viable to continue.
A meeting between ECC and E.ON to discuss this is due on Thursday with and we will, of course, update you as soon as we have more information.
There was a fear that the scheme might prove to be no longer viable to provide these panels to the 700 selected properties, so it is a welcome relief to know that EC have agreed with E.ON to carry on with this project despite the changes to the FIT.
EON will receive 16.8p per kW/hour because this is a social aggregated scheme i.e. it’s being done in bulk. The 21p rate was only for private individuals.
As of today, ECC have over 330 houses out of a possible 480 around the City who have signed their Tenancy Variation Agreements to give E.ON permission to check whether their roof and loft are suitable for solar panels. ECC are also now starting to offer this to around 200 top floor flats.
E.ON should begin to visit everyone who has signed up from 12 December with a view to starting installation in January.
It is worth pointing out here that the FIT rate will not affect tenants in any way. They will still be able to use all free electricity generated during the day from the panels.
The changes will only impact on the amount ECC receive – there will no longer be any income through renting roofs to E.ON. This will mean that the plans to use this income for a programme of energy efficiency and insulation works to those homes which will not benefit from solar PV panels will have to be scrapped.
Exeter City Council Housing Services have teamed up with E.ON to install solar panels on Council homes across the City. These panels will be installed free of charge (with the agreement of the tenant) and will provide free electricity during the day. It is hoped that this could save people up to £120 a year on their energy bills and help reduce fuel poverty.
In order to be suitable, homes must be south-facing and have access to a pitched roof. So far, letters have been sent to just under 500 houses which qualify. A further 200 letters will go out to top-floor flats within the next few days. These homes will each receive a visit from an officer over the next few weeks to explain further about the scheme and ask the tenant to sign a ‘Tenancy Variation Agreement’. This gives E.ON permission to survey the property and assess whether it is suitable for a solar install. The tenant does not have to sign if they do not wish to, but if they do and their home is suitable, they will benefit from any free electricity produced.
There are, of course, many homes which unfortunately are not eligible for solar panels. For every solar panel installed, E.ON will pay a ‘roof rent’ to the Council. This money will be used to develop a programme of energy efficiency and insulation works to those homes which will not benefit from this scheme.
Below is the FAQ sheet and the diagram of how this technology works.
Frequently Asked Questions:
The most important tip we can offer is that free electricity cannot be stored and used at other times, it has to be used at the time it is generated – and that will be in daylight hours, so:How much could I save on my energy bills?
The amount of money you could save on your energy bills depends on a range of factors including the size of the panels that are being installed, the amount of electricity you use and the time of day you use it.Typically, you could save between £70 and £120* a year on your electricity bills with the solar PV install.Also a 2kWp (kilowatt per hour) PV system can generate approximately 1686kWh of electricity per year; this is enough to power a typical washing machine around 1800 times**.Savings on bills could decrease if energy costs rise.
How can I make the most of my solar panels?
Use your electrical appliances during daylight hours, when the solar panels are generating free electricity. For example, you can set a 24 hour timer so that your washing machine and dishwasher come on even when you are out. But make sure your appliances are electrically tested and safe to leave unattended.
Spread the use of your appliances throughout the day so that you maximise your free electricity supply. If they are all on at the same time you might use more energy than your solar panels can generate and so you’ll end up paying more than you need to.
Make sure the trees, shrubs and hedges in your garden are pruned so that they aren’t overhanging your solar panels. If your panels are shaded it could prevent them generating as much free electricity as they could.3. Will there be any mess or disruption from the installation?
The majority of work is done outside of your home by experienced professionals. The electrician will need access to the house and will run cables from the loft to your electricity meter but mess and disruption will be kept to an absolute minimum.
4. Do I need to clear my loft? No, you do not need to clear all of your loft; however you will need to clear the entrance of the loft and a 1m square route/walk way through the loft.
5. How long will it take to be installed?
It typically takes 2-3 days to have solar panels fitted to your roof, which includes putting scaffolding up the day before, and taking it down once the install is complete.
7. Is there going to be an increase to my rent? No, the install will not have an impact on your rent.
8. Are there any maintenance costs? It’s unlikely there will be any maintenance requirements, however all maintenance costs will be covered by E.ON.
9. Do I have to change my energy provider? No, you can either stay with your existing energy provider or change your provider at any stage during or after the install.
10. Will I need to be at home when the panels are installed?
Yes, you will only need to be at home on day two of the install to allow the electrician to gain access to your loft.
Once we have confirmed your home is suitable you will receive a letter informing you how to arrange your installation.
11. What happens if there is a fault or the system is damaged?
It is highly unlikely that there will be any problems with the panels, but should that happen, one of our associated companies will fix the problem. We will also arrange for any routine maintenance on the panels should it be required.
Please call your local authority or Housing Association if there are any faults and they will liaise with E.ON.
12. How many panels will be installed?
We will typically install between 8 and 10 solar panels to your roof. The size of the panels are 992mm x 1650mm.
Your roof will remain water tight no matter what size panels we install.
13. Why might my home not be suitable for solar panels? This will be related to issues around electrical surveys and the position of the sun – the roof needs to be south facing.
If your home is not suitable you can still take measures to reduce your energy bill. Visit eonenergyfit.com and you’ll be able to develop a personal energy saving plan based on how and when you use energy in your home. The website will display recommendations tailored to your home, and will also display hints and tips that are relevant for everyone.
Alternatively you can visit our energy efficiency shop at eonshop.co.uk which sells a range of products including low energy kettles and more.
14. Do I need to read the meter?
No, we will read the meter remotely using mobile phone signal technology.
It is unlikely, but if there are any problems getting a signal to read your meter remotely, we will contact you and give you instructions on how to provide us with readings.
15. Do I need to inform my existing electricity supplier?
No, you do not need to inform your existing electricity supplier.
It is unlikely, but you will need to contact your supplier if you have an old dial meter in your property as this may need updating.
16. What if I do not want solar panels fitted to my roof?
You are under no obligation to have solar panels fitted to your roof, it is your choice, but if you go ahead you can save from £70 to £120 per year on your electricity bill.
17. Will I still receive my electricity bill as usual?
Yes, there will be no changes to the way you receive your electricity bill.
18. Will it affect my Right to Buy? No, this will not affect any right to buy, however following such a purchase E.ON would need to enter into a private agreement with the owner for the service to continue.
19. Can I get it removed if I want to? Once the panels have been installed they cannot be removed. If there is a problem with the roof that requires repairs, E.ON will liaise with local authority to remove the panel so that repairs can be made.
20. Can I have a loft conversion after the solar panels have been installed?
A structural survey would need to be carried out and it could incur extra structural work. Also the inverter would need to be boxed into a cupboard.
* Based on the installation of a 1.88kW to 2.35kW solar photovoltaic system fitted to a South-facing roof exposed to average UK weather conditions on an assumed tariff rate of 13.3p/kWh.
** Assuming a typical ‘A rated’ appliance at 60 degree wash and 0.94kWh per cycle.