A Peterborough homeowner will soon benefit from free daytime electricity, as rooftop solar PV panels are installed on the first 'show home' as part of the new Empower Peterborough programme.
Owners of 11,000 properties in Central, East, North and Park wards (the city's Green Deal Community Fund area) are being offered the opportunity to apply for free solar panels in the coming weeks.
The solar systems are installed by Empower Peterborough CIC, a partnership between the council and Empower Community, a social enterprise.
Homeowners will not have to pay a penny towards the installations, which will give them access to free daytime electricity, expected to be worth at least £200 every year. Homeowners will also receive £100 every five years for having the panels on their homes.
Communities will also benefit, as some of the money generated will be shared equally between a local community fund and Peterborough City Council.
If 1,500 properties sign up for the initial pilot scheme it could generate £1million each for the community and the council over the 20 year project.
Councillor Marco Cereste, leader of Peterborough City Council and cabinet member for growth, strategic planning, housing, economic development and business engagement, said: “Our partnership with Empower Community is a win/win for our residents, the council and the wider city. This first rooftop installation marks the beginning of a pilot and the scheme will expand across the city in the coming months.
“Until now having solar panels on residential properties has often been restricted to those who can afford them. Homeowners are approached by companies who install solar panels for free and those who live in social housing. But this scheme could offer every residential home owner in the city the chance to benefit financially and environmentally from the benefits of solar energy.
“It bolsters our ever growing environmental credentials by reducing the carbon footprint of our residents and the city as a whole. There is a benefit to Peterborough through the community fund and the money the council will generate over the life of the scheme can be used to protect public services.”
Alex Grayson, managing partner at Empower Community Management LLP, said: “It’s all about the power of inclusion. The question has to be – if a roof is suitable for PV and it hasn’t got it - why not? The feed-in tariff is there, the proven technology is there, the experience is there and the investment is there.
“The key is aligning everyone’s interests and taking the most inclusive approach to an area-wide programme of installations, rather than cherry-picking a few and only driving maximum returns for the investor. If you don’t have the spare cash to invest in PV yourself, but can still have an installation that benefits you and your community, at no cost – what’s not to like?”
Each installation will need a permit from the distribution network operator, UK Power Networks. The scheme is awaiting the outcome of an evaluation of the local electricity network, which is currently being conducted.
To register interest in the scheme, visit www.peterborough.gov.uk/freesolar