Solar panel project ‘to help fuel poverty’

Solar Panels will be installed on properties around Adur and Worthing in the latest council project
Solar Panels will be installed on properties around Adur and Worthing in the latest council project

RESIDENTS could be helped out of fuel poverty after Adur and Worthing councils agreed to install solar panels on its properties.

Adur Homes tenants will be first to benefit from the move, with panels set to be installed from July.

Residents will receive up to £280 of free electricity as part of the initiative agreed by the Joint Strategic Committee last Tuesday.

Phase two of the scheme could see panels installed to council properties across Adur and Worthing.

Councillor Jim Funnell said: “I almost thought it was too good to be true reading the report. I was thinking there must be a catch somewhere but it really is a brilliant scheme for Adur Homes residents and for people in fuel poverty this is great news.”

The panels will be funded by a risk-free, 20-year investment through the Your Energy Sussex (YES) partnership, set up by West Sussex County Council and neighbouring authorities to deliver cost-effective energy schemes.

Delivery partners Carillion will report back to the committee at a later date to outline options for the councils’ remaining properties, which could include Worthing Theatres and Worthing Town Hall.

Councillor Clive Roberts said: “I wrote down that it would save people money, is low risk to the council, saving the environment and no greenhouse gases.

“I think it’s a good one.”

Speaking from the public gallery, Northbrook ward councillor Keith Sunderland noted the seemingly cheap £2,500 price tag for a two kilowatt solar panel available through using Carillion and asked if the offer could be extended to Worthing residents who wanted to set up their own panels.

Matt Roberts, energy and sustainability manager for the councils, said the price of solar panels had reduced significantly and he was sure Carillion would ‘bite your hand off’ for more work.

A council spokesman said it was early days as to which properties in Worthing would be included in future schemes.

He said: “Our options are open. We have properties ranging from the town hall to the theatres, car parks to toilet blocks to commercially let premises. Some of these may be ineligible for a solar array – either because the roof points in the wrong direction, shading, structural considerations, or because of the nature of the building.

“In the case of those buildings that we own but which are leased to tenants, we are keen to discuss opportunities with the tenants to see if they’d like to be a part of this green energy revolution.”

Worthing Homes properties are not owned by the council so would not be eligible for the scheme, while the council is keen to talk to the newly-formed South Downs Leisure trust about the possibility of panels.

The spokesman added: “We don’t own Worthing Homes’ properties, so they’re not on our current list.

“With regards to our leisure sites, we are very keen to talk to the trust and to work with them in the near future.

“No formal decisions have been made as yet – we’re working on the best possible options and these will feature in a future report to the Joint Strategic Committee planned for June this year.”

April will be spent identifying properties before installations from July.