Sun goes down on solar panel council homes scheme

Solar panels on the roof of a house.
Solar panels on the roof of a house.

PLANS to fit solar panels on Doncaster Council homes to slash the electricity bills for tenants have been ditched.

Doncaster Council’s cabinet had backed the plans which would have seen an initial instalment of 550 solar systems.

But the authority has confirmed it has pulled out of the scheme after the Government reduced the subsidy it will pay for solar energy.

Mark Thompson, the authority’s cabinet member for trading and support services, said: “This is disappointing because solar and renewable energy presents an excellent opportunity to generate income for the council which can be reinvested in vital services.

“From an environmental perspective it’s yet another setback and will only fail to decrease carbon emissions from our power stations.

“The reduction means it would take at least twice as long to pay for solar panels which would have reduced electricity bills for our tenants. The reduced rate means the scheme is simply not viable.”

Coun Thompson said the authority would look how it could develop solar energy use on its buildings once the Government consultation on the feed-in tariff ends on December 23.

Under the council’s plans £675,000 was due to be spent on 100 systems, with external investors paying for another 450.

The council expected 550 households would have reduced levels of fuel poverty in some of the most disadvantaged parts of the borough. It had estimated individual households could save up to £217 a year from the electricity generated by the panels.

The Government had initially been paying 43p per kilowatt hour under its Feed in Tariff scheme, but announced plans to reduce it to 21p.

Don Valley MP Caroline Flint said: “Over 1,100 homes in Doncaster have installed solar panels, with many more orders placed.

“There are hundreds of jobs in South Yorkshire supplying and installing solar panels, jobs that may be on the line after these cuts.”