Deals set to be struck for free electricity for thousands of Norwich homes

Thousands of families around Norwich could be getting free electricity from spring next year as city council bosses look to strike two pioneering deals.

The council is this week set to invite companies to tender for a contract to install solar panels on about 3,000 council homes across Norwich, but is also on the brink of agreeing a �2.4m deal which will make council homes greener and save families cash.

The solar panel scheme would essentially mean the council would 'lease' out the roofs of suitable council homes to the successful supplier of the technology, which would install and maintain the photovoltaic panes for 25 years.

In return, the company would receive the feed in tariff – a guaranteed payment made to the owner of the system for energy produced.

The tenants would benefit from free electricity at certain times of the day and would save between �100 and �200 a year, while the city council would get a payment for each unit of energy generated by the household but not used and fed into the national grid.

Because the feed in tariff will be reduced for systems not installed by April next year, the city council is keen to get a supplier in place quickly, so the work can be done in the next six months.

The council acknowledges that means there may be a reduced number of suppliers bidding for the tender, because they might not feel the project can be delivered in time, and only homes which are south-facing will be able to benefit.

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Brenda Arthur, leader of Norwich City Council, said: 'We are aware that lots of families in the city are on the fringes of fuel poverty. 'This scheme has the potential of giving them free electricity and cutting their fuel bills. This will save them money, generate some money for us and improve the value of our properties.'

But a separate deal is also set to be struck which will see the council join forces with energy company Carillion to carry out �2.4m worth of work on council homes.

Through the government's Community Energy Savings Programme, energy companies have been allocated funding for work to make council homes more energy efficient.

Carillion has cash for work in various parts of the city including Mousehold, Clover Hill, Marlpit, North Earlham, Thorpe Hamlet, west of the city centre and the area around Barrack Street.

If the city council's cabinet agrees the deal when it meets on Wednesday, it will mean Carillion will use �1.1m of its funding and the city council will contribute �1.3m for work split between loft, cavity wall, gas boiler, solar panels and external wall insulation .

It will see 800 solar panels installed, 665 new boilers fitted, 451 loft insulation improvements and work to insulate 18 external wals.

Mrs Arthur said: 'We are always on the look out for anything which can help improve our properties and help our tenants.

'Officers have done a really good jon working with Carillion to bring this to the city.

As reported in the Evening News, the city council agreed a similar scheme in July to join forces with British Gas for a deal which will see more than �800,000 pumped into improving the energy efficiency of homes in Bowthorpe.

Almost 200 homes there will get better loft insulation, 171 will get brand new boilers, 40 will get new wall insulation and two homes will get new PvC windows, with more than 300 families expected to benefit.

Under the deal, British Gas has agreed to put in �332,000 for the scheme through the Community Energy Saving Programme (CESP), while the city council will contribute about �480,000.

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