Solar panels to be installed at properties in the county

From left to right: Kris Ostle and Sean James, from Homes for Northumberland, and Coun Allan Hepple. Solar panels on some of the houses in Alnwick can be seen.
From left to right: Kris Ostle and Sean James, from Homes for Northumberland, and Coun Allan Hepple. Solar panels on some of the houses in Alnwick can be seen.

Hundreds of residents are to benefit from solar-power energy which will lower energy bills and reducing carbon emissions in council-owned homes.

Homes for Northumberland, the housing division of Northumberland County Council, is set to install hi-tech solar panels on the roofs of council houses in Alnwick, Lesbury and Boulmer over the coming year.

Mrs Turnbull with Coun Allan Hepple.

Mrs Turnbull with Coun Allan Hepple.

The installation work is part of a three-year scheme which will see 1,600 solar panels installed around the county and reduce carbon emissions by an estimated 1,300 tonnes a year.

Properties will be selected where their design and position makes them most suitable for solar energy and those households will be contacted to see if they wish to go ahead with the scheme.

Tenants pay nothing for the panels for their maintenance and can expect to save between £100 and £200 a year on their bills.

Hilda Turnbull, 80, from Cedar Grove, in Alnwick, was one of the first council tenants in the area to have solar panels installed.

She said: “The installation was quick and easy.

“I get free electricity during the day so I try to use electrical appliances, such as the washing machine, during the day to take advantage of this.”

More than 500 properties in Cramlington, Blyth and Seaton Delaval have had solar panels installed over the last year.

Coun Allan Hepple, county council cabinet member responsible for housing, said: “We are delighted that so many tenants will benefit from this scheme at a time when increasing energy prices are becoming a real hardship for many families.

“For a number of years, Homes for Northumberland has been carrying out various energy efficiency improvements to many council properties to make them warmer and reduce energy bills for our tenants.

“The introduction of solar panels is just one of these measures.

“They are great for the environment and fantastic for our tenants who are immediately benefiting from reduced energy bills.”

Funding for the scheme was secured by the county council through prudential borrowing, and with income subsequently generated from the feed-in-tariff, the scheme will ultimately pay for itself.

Homes for Northumberland manages more than 8,000 properties in the county, primarily in the Alnwick and Blyth Valley areas, with a small estate of properties in Allendale in West Northumberland.