Carmarthenshire County Council has abandoned plans to install solar panels on approximately 2,700 council homes following Department for Energy and Climate Change proposals to slash the small-scale feed-in tariff (FiT).
The council was collaborating with community renewable energy and investment group, Gen Community, to put together an installation programme which would both help those in council homes save money on their energy bills and collect FiT payments into a community fund.
However, yesterday the council said it was forced to scrap the plans, and its housing teams are to now investigate other ways of lowering fuel bills, such as rolling out energy efficiency schemes.
Carmarthenshire council executive board member for housing Linda Evans said it was regrettable that the council would not be able to follow through on its plans, adding that the level of cuts proposed by the government had made the programme unviable.
“The present Executive Board, the previous Executive Board, and officers, worked hard to get this project together and we are all extremely disappointed. I am writing to the Welsh ministers and the minister in London expressing our concerns in Carmarthenshire.
“We appreciate this is also disappointing for many of our tenants, but we wish to reassure everyone that we will continue working on alternative ways to help people save money on their energy bills,” she said.
However the council did confirm that plans to install panels on commercial rooftops in the county, including on schools on offices, would go ahead as planned and be installed under a community benefit ‘rent a roof’ initiative.
“We’re pleased that we’re able to continue with our plans to install solar panels on non-housing property. We are currently preparing buildings, and hope that we will start making savings on energy very soon,” said David Jenkins, executive board member for resources.
The FiT proposals – an 87% reduction to the feed-in tariff for installations up to 10kW in size, to come into effect on 1 January – have attracted considerable criticism since their unveiling earlier this month and are widely expected to result in a number of community energy programmes either curtailing or scaling down solar panel rollout plans.
Last month Doncaster Council, which previously revealed ambitious plans to install solar on the roofs of more than 6,000 council-owned homes, confirmed that a considerable cut to the feed-in tariff would impact on the project’s scale and even future.