County set to install solar power

Up to 1,600 council-owned homes in Northumberland are set to benefit from solar power in a partnership between the local authority and a housing management firm.

The first residents who are due to reap the rewards have received information about the scheme and work is now underway.

The project is targeted at homes in Cramlington, Blyth, Alnwick and Boulmer, and will help residents to lower their electricity bills.

After all the panels are installed it is estimated that they could reduce carbon emissions in the county by around 1,300 tonnes a year.

The installation work will be carried out by Homes for Northumberland.

The team will install around 540 systems a year, over a three-year period, and after all panels are installed the company will have a maintenance team to look after them in the future.

Funding for the scheme has been secured by Northumberland County Council through prudential borrowing, with income subsequently generated from the feed-in tariff.

Coun Allan Hepple, policy board member for housing, planning and regeneration, said: “We are very pleased to have been able to secure funding for this significant scheme which will see the benefits of reduced fuel bills for many more residents of council owned homes.”

“Through the scheme we are also extending the installations to properties in our more rural areas – helping to combat fuel poverty over a wider range of stock.

“In the future we aim for all newly built affordable homes to benefit from renewable energy features such as this.”

Kevin Lowry, managing director of Homes for Northumberland said: “One of the top priorities of residents is reducing the cost of electricity used in their homes.

“For a number of years, Homes for Northumberland has been carrying out various energy efficiency improvements to many of our properties to make them warmer, ranging from improved insulation to air source heat pumps.

“Solar panels are another great solution when it comes to dealing with soaring fuel costs and these panels will make a real difference to tenants’ fuel bills; as the price of electricity continues to increase.”