Renewable energy provider Solarplicity will be opening up its ‘Community Energy Scheme’ to social housing landlords across the country, following a successful initial roll-out in partnership with Stoke-on-Trent City Council.
Pictured from left to right): Tim Day — Head of Community Energy at Solarplicity, Chris Hewett — Chief Executive of the Solar Trade Association (STA), and Councillor Anthony Munday of Stoke-on-Trent City Council
The scheme is a first in the UK and it has now reached over 3,500 sign-ups by council tenants in Stoke-on-Trent. It is designed to provide cheaper energy to tenants by reducing their energy bills through the installation of solar panels, energy storage units, smart meters and LED technology in their homes. Solarplicity has now surpassed 750 installations of solar panels on Stoke-on-Trent City council houses, which is seen as confirmation that the scheme is fit for roll-out to other social housing landlords across the country. Additionally, it is now also giving private homeowners in the Stoke-on-Trent area the opportunity to sign up to the Scheme.
Back in May, Stoke-on-Trent City Council was the first local authority in the UK to approve this innovative programme, which sees Solarplicity fund, install, operate and maintain its renewable technology at no cost to tenants or the Council. Ahead of the launch, the company carried out a desk-top survey of the 18,000 houses owned by the council, which found that 12,500 of them are eligible to have solar panels fitted to their roofs.
Tenants who sign up to the scheme also receive new energy storage technology as well as new LED-lighting systems in their houses, which can help them reduce energy consumption by around 8-10%. The mix of clean technology systems means that the Community Energy Scheme will be equally open to all 18,000 households of the council, even those where no solar panels can be installed.
According to figures provided by Solarplicity, its investment into the council’s housing stock has the potential to provide 181,000 additional Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) points towards the Council’s overall Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating.
Addressing the growing number of tenants living in fuel poverty, the partnership has the potential to reduce energy costs for local Council tenants by around £300 per household, per year. This would mean an overall annual saving secured for the local community of circa £5.4m (based on the Ofgem recommended comparison methodology versus the UK’s ‘Big Six’ energy companies). Over 25 years, the potential saving could amount to £135m. Additionally, the investment will also lead to the creation of dozens of new jobs within the local area.
Chris Hewett, Chief Executive of the Solar Trade Association (STA), commented on the significance of the scheme: “It’s exciting to see a package of solar, battery storage and energy efficiency being offered via social landlords in this way. Stoke City Council and Solarplicity are to be commended for this imaginative scheme that shows the benefits of affordable clean energy can be accessible to all homes in the UK. The Solar Trade Association is working with our members and local authorities to encourage other projects like it.”
Tim Day, Head of Community Energy at Solarplicity, commented: “The scheme is perfect for social housing landlords and it is designed to be a win-win situation for all involved. It is a totally new and unique solution that is already proving its value. We are now planning to roll it out in partnership with further landlords in the coming months.”
Councillor Randy Conteh, Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing, Communities and Safer City, said: “Our tenants are our number one priority and we are committed to investing in and improving the quality of our accommodation to support their needs. This scheme is about lowering energy bills so that our tenants have more money in their pockets. It is also yet another example of our drive to make Stoke-on-Trent a sustainable energy city, alongside our innovative district heat network and plans to improve sustainable public transport.”