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Council rethinks solar panel investment after tariffs cut

December 19, 2011 3:22 PM

Cambridge's Liberal Democrat-run City Council has been forced to rethink its plans to invest £430,000 in solar photovoltaic panels after the government announced proposals to reduce feed in electricity tariffs.

It has decided, instead, to switch investment into solar thermal panels which will bring a much higher rate of return for taxpayers.

The council will also be investing some of the money into further energy efficiency measures such as more LED lighting in car parks and energy efficiency at Ditchburn Place, the council's supported housing unit in Mill Road.

Cambridge City Council Leader, Sian Reid said: "The government's proposal to reduce the feed in tariffs means that the rate of return has dropped significantly making the project less attractive for us.

"While we are keen to invest in renewables when the return is strong our priority must be to cut our energy consumption.

"We were disappointed by these changes to the feed in tariffs and the fact that the government gave such short notice to organisations like ours who have been forced to re-evaluate plans at the last minute. We are lobbying the government to retain the present tariffs until the end of March 2012 especially for community groups and schools, which are doing the right thing and setting a good example, by planning to install panels on their roofs.

"Next year we will publish a long term carbon management plan, which shows how we can go much further again to drive down our energy costs and carbon footprint down over the next years. These investments will make real savings for the council which will help us in future years with our savings targets."

The council plans to spend £200,000 on solar thermal panels in 2012/13 and increase spending on energy efficiency by a further £223,000.