HUNDREDS of council tenants in a Yorkshire city are due to benefit from free daytime electricity under a multi-million pound scheme to install solar panels on the roofs of more than 1,000 properties.
Plans are being drawn up for a groundbreaking partnership between York Council and a Yorkshire-based company, Community Energy Solutions, which could slash electricity bills for the homes involved by as much as 25 per cent.
The scheme would also involve a social enterprise called Empower Community.
York Council officers are due to produce a report looking at the viability of the project. The council’s executive member for neighbourhoods and housing, Coun Ann Reid, said the proposed scheme would bring significant benefits to the city and could be introduced at no cost to the authority.
Coun Reid added: “This is a really exciting proposal as it will see more than £7m invested in bringing cheaper electricity to people in areas of high fuel poverty and will also help to reduce the city’s carbon emissions.
“The proposed deal is especially interesting as not only would it not cost the council anything, it would actually generate an income and could also fund community projects.”
The project would take advantage of the Government’s feed in tariffs, which pay people to generate their own electricity.
The cash from the feed in tariffs would pay for the investment and would also provide York Council with a valuable long-term source of income, which includes a profit share between the authority and a community fund to finance new environmentally-friendly projects in the city.
Under the proposals, Empower Community would recoup the cost of installing the solar panels and would pay York Council a roof licence fee, worth about £1m over the lifetime of the project.
A further estimated £2m would be split through the profit share between the council and the Community Fund over the 25-year period of the project.
As well as bringing financial benefits to residents and the council, the scheme would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by about 872 tonnes a year. Up to a dozen jobs are expected to be made within the building industry if the scheme goes ahead.