Funds generated from solar panels on Wigan social houses are on the rise providing a boost for tenants, a council report has said.
The figure Wigan and Leigh Homes (WALH) predicts it will raise this year through photo-voltaic technology is £1.4m, an increase of £100k from previous years.
Tenants will directly benefit, authority bosses have pledged, with the proceeds re-invested to “provide tenants with assistance in meeting their fuel costs.”
WALH has “indexed” similar proceeds for each year for the next 20 so confident they are in the scheme.
Luckily for those concerned, the panels do not relay on direct sunlight - given Wigan’s climate - in order to create energy.
Excess energy generated by the panels is sold on to the National Grid, meaning WALH profits from its decision to install the technology at a time when the government was offering generous feed-in tariffs for green energy schemes.
The figures have been revealed in a finance report that will go before the full council next month.
Late last year ministers controversially announced plans to cut the tariff for domestic use of solar technology by 65 per cent. But WALH’s panels will not be affected by these reforms as it will only apply to projects launched after the new regulations come into force.
Speaking in December, Matt Roberts, director of asset management and development at Wigan Council, said: “The announcement doesn’t affect any income from WALH properties with solar panels as this is set at the time of installation, however it would impact on plans for further installations in the future.”
The solar industry warned 27,000 jobs and £127m in investment would be put in jeopardy by the move.
The panels, or the prospect of them covering Wigan agricultural land, have not been well received across the borough.
Earlier this year Ed Thwaite, chair of the Lowton East Neighbourhood Development Forum (LENDF), called on the town hall to oppose a number bids for solar farms.
He said: “Can you imagine what the place will look like with these things all over the fields? It’s outrageous and something has to be done to stop them.
“Basically it’s just people trying to make easy money and putting these things on green belt land is not on.”