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Government Cuts Spell More Woes For Stoke-on-Trent Residents

The ambitious plans of installing solar panels on approximately 4,000 council houses, slashing energy costs and creating jobs for tenants are likely to go down under as a result of Government cuts.

Earlier, the city council of Stoke-on-Trent made a deal with maintenance firm Kier and energy firm E.ON to install panels in thousands of houses, a deal which would effectively reduce energy bills by as much as £100 on an annual basis for some of the city’s poorest families.

E.ON agreed to the deal as the cost for installing solar panels would have been covered by Government subsidies, while the city council would receive a substantial income by renting the roof space.

But the recently proposed Governmental cuts of up to 50% have left the agreement hanging in the balance. The subsidy payments by the Governments cover the generated electricity for the National grid.

If the cuts are accepted by the Government, the Stoke-on-Trent deal will no longer be a viable investment for E.ON.

Along with the relief on electric bills, around 100 jobs that were expected to be created for electricians, roofers, delivery drivers, storage workers, team leaders, customer officers and scaffolders are also anticipated to be scrapped.

Although E.ON has still gone ahead with its plans to install solar panels in 548 homes, it is a far cry from the 4,000 homes that were expected to have benefitted from this program.

Andrew Barrow, the spokesman for E.ON has slammed the government proposals, citing that they are unlawful and detrimental to the development of the city in nature.

“Nothing is set in stone, but if the situation stays as it is, the project will be coming to a premature close. The financial aspect of the agreement was a fantastic deal for residents and for the council, but it was all based on one set of figures,” said Barrow.

“We were playing a long-term game and the rules have changed.”

Barrow continued to state that if the ruling remains unchanged, E.ON will be forced to stick with its incomplete plan of targeting less than 550 homes in the city.

“It’s good news for those families but unfortunate for the others,” shrugged Barrow.

Kath Banks, the councillor for Longton West, added, “I’m really disappointed the Government has cut this, because it’s the people of Stoke-on-Trent who are going to be missing out.”

The cut in Government subsidies means that the feed-in-tariff will take a distinct drop from 43.3p per kilowatt to a measly 21p.

The Assistant Director of housing services in the council, Bourne, stated: “The tariff being reduced makes it unviable for E.ON.”

The confirmation of the proposed slashes would lead to the reception of higher feed-in-tariffs until April 1, following which the rate would drop to 21p.

The Blurton Farm Residents’ Association chairman, Christine Pratt, talked about the reactions of residents to the proposals.

“I’ve spoken to lots of residents who have filled in their forms, only to be told they can’t have the panels. Obviously, they aren’t very happy,” Pratt said.




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