Plug pulled on free electric

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Just over 100 lucky council tenants in Hull stand to get free electricity during the day after the Government cut subsidies.

The city council had hoped to install photo-voltaic panels, which create electricity from sunlight, on 500 council homes in the city - but the Coalition’s decision to halve subsidies means only 120 are likely to get installed.

According to a council report, 38 homes had the panels installed by the cut off date on December 12.

The council is considering installing a further 82 at a cost of up to £770,000 - over £9,000 each - which should pay for themselves within the 25-year life of the project.

It says they can’t go any further as that would mean “directly subsidising individual tenant electrical fuel bills from the General Fund.”

PV panels are one of the measures councils are using to tackle fuel poverty - defined as a household which needs to spend more than 10 per cent of its income on fuel.

However the report reveals that technical issues - such as the strength of a roof and which direction it faces - is the deciding factor.

It says targeting individual households which fall within the government’s current definition of fuel poverty would be “resource intensive and administratively difficult.”

The scheme - which would have cost some £4.38m for 500 - was the brainchild of Labour’s deputy leader and KWL chairman Daren Hale.

Tenants stood to get free electricity during the day with any excess going to the National Grid and creating an income for the council.

The report concludes that going beyond the extra 82 in the pipeline “would result in an overall net financial loss to the council of £80,000 for every additional 50 installations”, adding: “The council would be directly subisidising individual tenant electrical fuel bills from the General Fund.”