Monday, 24 January 2011

Could solar panels be coming to Ridgegrove?

Ridgegrove Estate in Launceston could be one of the first areas in Cornwall to benefit from investment in solar panels. The scheme, which could provide hot water as well as much cheaper electricity bills, is being considered by Cornwall Council.

The former government set up a scheme to encourage local authorities to invest in solar power and created a 'feed-in' tariff which means that any excess energy that is produced and fed into the national grid will mean a payment of around 41p per unit.

At the end of last year I met with Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne MP - one of the Lib Dem ministers in the coalition - and he said that he would continue the scheme for around two years. I passed this information on to the Council and have been asking them to consider investing in local council housing. The Ridgegrove Estate is in a prime position as many of the homes are south facing and therefore able to take full advantage of the sun.

If this goes ahead - and council officers are currently planning how to make it happen - then it will be a huge boost to local householders who will see their electricity bills fall dramatically.

I want to make sure that the details are right and to ensure that council tenants do not have to pay for solar panels to be installed. I also want the scheme to be made available to owner occupied and privately rented households at as cheap a price as possible.

Full marks to Julian German and council officers for their action so far. Cornwall is ideally placed to take advantage of natural resources such as solar power. It is the right thing to do for our environment and the right thing to do for local residents.

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