In November 2021, Peterborough City Council purchased 7,700 solar installations across England from a company called ECS Peterborough 1 LLP (ECSP1). The panels were purchased from the administrators of the company following its insolvency.
The council manages the solar panel assets in place for existing customers while aiming to generate as much electricity as possible.
Along with several specialist companies, the council seeks to provide customers with the best service and value. As part of this, you may hear from us or one of our partners:
- Peterborough Limited (wholly owned subsidiary of Peterborough City Council) - provides contract and asset management services
- BayWa - provides customer services, manages contractors and commercial information
- BI Electrical and the Green View Group - contractors completing maintenance requirements, under the instruction of BayWa and Peterborough Limited
Please note we are not taking on any new customers.
If you have a query, please read through the options below for further information.
Please note there is currently a low availability of solar engineers due to high demand for new solar installations across the country. The low availability is leading to delays in our response rate.
Electricity generated by the solar panels feeds into your home's main electrical systems. It supplements the electricity you need to buy from the grid.
Any unused electricity from the solar panels goes to the grid and we are paid a fee. We use this fee to pay down the cost of installing and maintaining the solar panel system.
We monitor the electricity that goes into the grid. We can't quantify how much benefit you receive from the installation because we only monitor what enters the grid, not what is generated.
For context, the average solar installation in our estate should generate c. 2,632 kWh per annum. In May 2022, British Gas's electric Standard Variable Rate was 27.627 per kWh. If the sun shines as it should, the system works as intended and you use all that the solar panels generate, then the system will replace c. £767 of mains electricity per annum.
We have real-time monitors on the solar panel installations. If they under-perform or stop working, we receive an alert and will schedule an engineer automatically. We also undertake periodic visits of sites.
If you experience any issues with your solar panels, such as an unusual noise or smell, or loose panels posing a risk of falling or causing injury, please contact us.
If your meter isn't working, it doesn't automatically mean you're not receiving electricity from the install and / or we aren't able to claim monies.
The solar panel systems installed were specified and built to a high standard. We constantly monitor the systems. A loss of communication or production of electricity triggers an alert on our system. Our maintenance team responds to these alarms by completing a health check on the system as a minimum.
We manage and book our own servicing centrally and do not service by request.
If your solar panels need repair work, please complete our online contact form and choose the 'Repair' option.
The solar panel system may stop working as intended if we can't gain access to your home. If it stops working, this may reduce or remove the benefit of 'free electricity' you are receiving.
It may also create a safety risk that may affect your tenancy agreement, insurance and resident safety.
If tenants deny us access, we may approach the landlord or Housing Association for resolution if appropriate.
These requests must come to us via your Housing Association and their main Right to Buy process.
When we receive a request from your Housing Association, we offer either a purchase or a lease option.
Once you have chosen your option, we coordinate with your solicitor and Housing Association to make the necessary transfers.
The lease option is most popular. We would charge you a fee to set up an airspace lease. This means we rent roof space from you until the end of the lease period (generally 2035-2038).
In that time, we maintain the equipment and take the payment from the Government tariffs. You get the benefit of electricity generated by the solar panel system and the peace of mind of no up-keep costs.
You can buy the asset at a later date using a sliding scale in the lease.
With the purchase option, we calculate and bill you for the revenue we lose by you owning the asset and not us. You then pay us for this lost revenue and we arrange for the Government to pay you the tariffs direct.
You still get to use the electricity generated but you also get the cost of maintaining the system. Customers often add the cost of purchase to their Right to Buy mortgage application.
When the property is sold, the new buyer / owner will become the new landlord under the solar lease as they buy the property subject to their acceptance of our airspace lease with you.
From our perspective, there is no need for you to take out a new airspace lease with us.
You may wish to seek your own independent legal advice on this situation.
We ask that the new owner provides us with contact details so we can update our records. Contact details are important for us to quickly book in repairs or maintenance works with you, as well as to ensure any notices are addressed correctly.
We need your solicitor's name and email address so we can ask them to verify the change for fraud prevention purposes as the Land Registry can take some months to process your new ownership.
If you wish to form a new airspace lease on differing terms with us, please send your request as a query using our online contact form. We will review and consider your request.
During the process of selling your home, there are three options that you can take:
- You buy the panels from us. We remove the airspace lease. You then have the panel ownership integrated into the sale of your home.
- The new purchaser or their mortgage provider want to change the lease to suit their terms. Please read the section below titled 'Your mortgage company has specific requirements'.
- The new purchaser or their mortgage provider does nothing. The airspace lease transfers alongside the main property title of ownership.
Please ask your solicitor to complete our online contact form to let us know which option you have chosen so we can assist.
We also ask that new owners provide us with their contact details so we can get in touch with them if issues arise.
New owners can engage with us at a later date to either put in a different lease or purchase the panels from us.
Your mortgage provider has specific requirements
We are generally agreeable providing the mortgage provider broadly complies with the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) general requirements.
It is worth noting that the Council of Mortgage Lenders represents Mortgage Lenders, which we are not. We need to protect our commercial interests to make sure taxpayers do not subsidise a householder's commercial arrangement with their lender.
Specifically, it is worth noting that some lenders don't like that we ask a qualified person to confirm if a property's value is adversely affected by having solar on it. We require a qualified person to decide as once we remove the panels, the money we receive and the free electricity the homeowner receives stops and cannot be recovered.
If the new mortgage provider doesn't like and / or accept our terms, then we will reach an impasse that can often be overcome by purchasing your system at the rate indicated in the lease. It is often possible for this sum to be added to a mortgage application.
As a point of clarification, we are often asked if we are 'members of the code of practice for the renewable energy sector that is approved by the Chartered Trading Standard Institute'. We are not. This requirement applies to installers only, which we are not. We maintain and manage existing systems and do not install. Thus, we are outside of the remit of such schemes. The installers of all our systems were members of said code of practice as evidenced by the MCS certificate held for your system.
You can re-mortgage your home without our permission.
The new mortgage provider can review and accept the existing lease. We don't charge for this and your solicitor can arrange it for you.
If the new mortgage provider wants to change the lease to suit their terms, we are generally agreeable providing they broadly comply with the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) general requirements.
To vary leases normally costs c. £300 including VAT and takes about six weeks.
Please ask your solicitor to complete the online contact form to submit your request. Choose the option 'Query'.
If you wish to remove the solar panel installation from your home, you would need our permission to do so.
You would have to pay the purchase price we set for the installation before we give permission. We can provide a costed assessment upon request.
Please get in touch using our online contact form.
We understand that parties to airspace lease agreements may have had separate agreements with ECS Peterborough 1 LLP (ECSP1) which potentially entitled the initial airspace lease landlord (i.e. the homeowner) to payment of up to £100 every five years, in the event that ECSP1 had money remaining after all of its other costs and distributions had been covered.
This may have been described to you as a 'payment to you for your participation in the Empower Peterborough Solar PV Programme'. These agreements did not transfer to Peterborough City Council and remain with ECSP1.
As ECSP1 has entered administration and ceased trading, it is our understanding that no payments are due under these agreements. Should you wish to contact the administrators of ECSP1, the relevant contact is:
If, however, entitlement to payment is included within your airspace lease (as registered at the Land Register), then please forward to us via our online contact form. We will investigate for payment. Please pick the subject category 'Query' on the form and we'll contact you within ten working days.
Whilst we note this will be a disappointment to many, Peterborough City Council cannot accept third party liabilities as its own. We would also like to highlight that the £100 was the theoretical maximum and not a guaranteed sum. With the increase in utility costs, it is likely you are seeing much greater savings with your solar panels than the c.£20 per year you may have been entitled to from ECSP1 in the event it had surplus funds available.
Please complete our online contact form using the option 'Complaint'. We will contact you within ten working days.
View further information on making a complaint to the council.
Online contact form
We respond to enquiries within 10 working days.