Darlington council promotes solar as FiT deadline approaches

Up to 1,000 Darlington council homes are set to benefit from the installation of solar panels as the local authority and its partners race to complete the work before government proposals to cut subsidies are implemented.

Darlington Borough Council has leased some of its housing stock to Global Heat Source and Saving Energy North East, who stand to gain the current feed-in tariff rate for panels installed on any of the homes signed up to the local initiative. The council has been calling on tenants to take part as they stand to benefit from significantly reduced energy bills as well as free installation, which will be paid for by the lessees. However, fewer than 300 properties have had work completed to date, leaving hundreds of households in danger of missing out when the scheme closes at the end of December.

While the scheme was already planned, a spokesperson for the council told Solar Power Portal that it has been brought forward at a faster pace following the announcement of the government’s plans to cut the feed in tariff (FiT) by 87%. She added that it would be ‘unviable’ for Global Heat Source and Saving Energy North East to fund the installation at the new proposed tariff rate.

The government is expected to announce its plans this week following a consultation earlier this year, with an implementation date for any new tariffs expected in March 2016.

Garry Coulson, managing director at Saving Energy North East, said: “We are delighted to be working on this project which will see council tenants significantly reduce their electricity bills by up to 50%.

“We hope that the residents will grab this opportunity while it lasts. It really is a win-win situation for residents, all they have to do is register an interest and a full survey will be booked. The installation will be carried out swiftly and with minimal disruption.”