The recently-announced Government proposals to cut the feed-in tariffs for solar power by more than 50 percent on December 12 threaten the development of a £12 million photovoltaic development program in Westminster. The council’s scheme was designed to help tackle fuel poverty, particularly as some areas of Westminster have the highest levels of fuel poverty in the UK.
At the time the Government announcement was made, Westminster City Council's housing provider CityWest Homes, which manages 21,700 homes on the local authority’s behalf, was just days away from signing the deal to install solar panels on 600 buildings by March next year.
CityWest Homes’ solar power scheme was planned to help 1,000 residents save a third off their energy bills per year, a saving of £7.5 million over 25 years, and help a further 10,000 households on communal systems save £1.75 million over the same period. The scheme was also designed so that external investors provided the panels at no cost to residents or the council.
The new rates, which reduce solar power incentives for residential solar installations from 43.4p/kWh to just 21p/kWh mean that Westminster City Council residents may have to wait longer to benefit from free solar electricity.
Westminster City Council suggests that the scheme would be no longer viable under the new lower feed-in tariffs. CityWest Homes will now work to install as many solar panels as it can before the December 12 deadline.
Mark Hoyland, CityWest Homes’ Chief Executive said, “Obviously we are hugely disappointed that more residents in Westminster cannot benefit from a larger solar panel scheme.
“However, despite this setback, CityWest Homes will continue to find better ways to use renewable energy sources, and promote energy saving, eco-friendly measures to benefit both our residents and the environment.”
The National Housing Federation has recently called on the Government to propose different tariffs for social housing schemes.