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Bristol Co-operative Install Free Solar Panels

Bristol Power, a co-operative in Bristol, is intending to install hundreds of solar panels for free in the Lockleaze area of Bristol that should result in residents reducing their electricity bills significantly. If this scheme is successful it may be rolled out throughout the city.

Lockleaze was selected partly due to the fact that it is designated a fuel poverty area plus, as many of the houses are of a similar design, installation costs will be lower.

Bristol Power is of the opinion that as much as 40% could be knocked of the electricity bills of those having solar panels installed.

Dave Jeal, the local vicar, is one of the first in the locality to sign up for panels to be installed, in a cross shape, on St James Church’s roof in Romney Avenue.

Residents in Lockleaze have been mailshoted by Bristol Power to try to persuade around 300 to take advantage of the scheme that is backed by both the Government and city council that have provided £15,000 from a sustainable community energy fund.

Bristol Power’s spokesperson, David Saunders, commented: “We want to offer people the opportunity to join an energy co-operative which would give them the chance of having solar panels on their roof and much cheaper annual electricity bills.

“In Bristol there is enough roof space for 700 megawatts of solar power – that’s the equivalent of a decent sized power station.”

There would be no capital outlay by residents who would be able to have the panels provided and fitted free of charge. Much of the electricity Lockleaze residents use would also be free of charge although during winter time and on dark nights they would have to pay for some electricity but at a discounted price.

The majority of the funds required for this scheme emanates from the “feed-in tariff” which are the funds coming from the National Grid who purchase the electricity. Bristol Power would receive these monies to repay the capital loan provided for installing the panels.

As Bristol Power is a co-operative any profits made are re-invested in the project.

Presently 21p per kWh of electricity is received but, from July, this is likely to be going to reduce to 16p.

Due to the fact that the Government had been heavily subsidising the installation of solar panels there has been a huge demand in recent years. Unfortunately, the Government were no longer able to subsidise the scheme to the previous level so in the last budget the subsidy was cut by 50%.

Mr Saunders believes that it would cost around £1 billion to install solar panels throughout Bristol with properties producing in the region of £80 million of electricity each year.

He believes solar panels are catching on just as computers did many years ago.


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