Wrexham is powering its way to the environmental top spot following its solar panel fit out on almost 3,000 social housing properties.
Wrexham Council has carried out one of the biggest fit outs of solar photovoltaic (PVs) panels on social housing in Europe.
Against the odds, the council along with its partners has fitted in excess of 25,000 locally made panels on 3,000 homes totaling 5MW.
The bad weather this winter was expected to delay the project and the government’s announcement that is was halving its rate on the feed in tariff provided a further knock back.
However, the local authority met its deadline to install the panels before the rate was halved and now whole streets in the borough are clad in solar panels, which convert energy from daylight into electrical energy.
One such street is Bickerton Drive in Wrexham where a row of bungalows is now fitted with PVs. The kettles will be powered by solar energy this Tuesday as residents prepare their afternoon tea fpr the Royal Jubilee.
Terence Davies of Bickerton Drive said: “I didn’t know much about them before we were approached by the council. They sent us a DVD to have a look at and I thought I’d give it a try. We’ve been really happy with them. We had a meter reading two weeks after they were fitted and we’d saved £3.15 off our bill in that time.”
June Owens also of Bickerton Drive said: “I’d never given solar panels much thought. I think it is a good thing for the region, and if it makes a difference to the environment then that’s not a bad thing.”
The project is boosting the local economy too with Sharp Solar, which has a base in Wrexham, providing more than 25,000 panels and 63 local people have been employed to work as installers, tenant liaison officers, electricians and labourers since the project began.
Council tradesmen have also been trained and many now possess the MCS accreditation, allowing them to undertake ongoing maintenance of the equipment.
Leader of Wrexham Council, Councillor Neil Rogers, said: “It’s good to know that we can celebrate the Diamond Jubilee and still reduce our carbon footprint.
“We are on our way to reducing the county borough’s carbon emissions by 50% by 2016 and the solar project is one of our major initiatives to meet those targets. It is expected to save up to 3,000 tonnes of CO2 each year. That’s the equivalent of planting a forest of 3,000 trees.”
The authority will make a surplus income from the scheme under the government’s feed in tariff programme, which will be reinvested in council services.
Environmental services company Forrest Green was awarded the project in September 2011 and pulled out all the stops to get the project completed on time.