Revisions to free solar panel scheme announced

Changes to the application criteria for a scheme to install solar panels, free of charge, on Peterborough homes have been revealed following government cuts to solar subsidies.

The Empower Peterborough free solar scheme has so far successfully installed panels on 220 households across the city.

These installations were completed ahead of the government’s reduction in solar subsidies (Feed-In Tariff) which came into force in January 2016.

Revisions to the scheme now mean it focuses on residents who have already submitted an application. New applications aren’t currently being accepted, but it’s hoped they will in future if Government subsidy remains available.

The new criteria require an eligible roof to be easily accessible, large enough to install a minimum number of solar panels, the roof to be southerly facing, and for homes to have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of D or above.

Residents who have already registered will be contacted if their home meets these criteria and a full assessment will take place.

Councillor John Holdich, leader of Peterborough City Council, said: “The Empower Peterborough free solar scheme has successfully installed panels on hundreds of households across the city.

“With the changes imposed by the Government we have had to adapt the scheme to meet new criteria. We hope to see more solar panels installed on Peterborough homes throughout the year."

Homeowners who have received receive the free panels will now be able to make an energy saving of roughly £200 every year. They will also receive £100 every five years for having the panels on their roof, although this amount will not be available for new customers as a result of changes to the subsidy.

The solar PV arrays are installed by Empower Peterborough CIC, a partnership between the council and Empower Community, a social enterprise.

Alex Grayson, managing partner at Empower Community Management LLP, said: “We have been very pleased with the level of interest shown by Peterborough residents and many of them now have solar arrays up and operating on their roofs.

“The focus for the next stage following the Government announcement will give priority to homeowners who have already registered their interest. We do hope to be able to reopen for new sign-ups for this scheme, depending on the continued availability of the Feed-in Tariff. We’re also working on an alternative offering for the future, should all government subsidy end."

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