Free energy for tenants

Northumberland County Councillor Allan Hepple, cabinet member for housing, with renewables team leader Peter Baird.
Northumberland County Councillor Allan Hepple, cabinet member for housing, with renewables team leader Peter Baird.
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Hundreds of residents in Northumberland are benefiting from solar power energy which is lowering energy bills and reducing carbon emissions in council owned homes.

Homes for Northumberland, the housing division of Northumberland County Council, has installed 500 hi-tech solar panels on the roofs of council houses in Cramlington, Blyth and Seaton Delaval over the past year.

The installation work is part of a three year scheme which will see 1,600 solar panels installed around the county and reduce carbon emissions by an estimated 1,300 tonnes a year.

Tenants pay nothing for the panels or their maintenance and can expect to save between £100-200 a year on their bills.

Mrs Watson of Axminster Close in Cramlington was one of the first council tenants to have solar panels installed when the scheme started exactly a year ago.

She said: “The installation was quick and easy and the panels made a real difference to my fuel bill which reduced almost immediately. I have saved almost £150 in the first year.

“I get free electricity during the day so I try to use electrical appliances such as the washing machine, during the day to take advantage of this.”

Council tenants in the communities of Alnwick, Lesbury and Boulmer are the next to be invited to join in the scheme.

Coun Allan Hepple, cabinet member responsible for housing, said: “We’re delighted that so many tenants are benefitting from this scheme at a time when increasing energy prices are becoming a real hardship for many families.

“For a number of years, Homes for Northumberland has been carrying out various energy efficiency improvements to many council properties to make them warmer and reduce energy bills for our tenants.

“The introduction of solar panels is just one of these measures. They are great for the environment and fantastic for our tenants who are immediately benefiting from reduced energy bills.”

Funding for the scheme was secured by Northumberland County Council through prudential borrowing, and with income subsequently generated from the feed-in-tariff, the scheme will ultimately pay for itself.