Call for solar panels on Chorley social housing

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Every property owned by the largest social housing provider in Chorley will meet the national average for energy efficiency by next year.

Chorley Community Housing (CCH) is aiming to achieve an energy performance certificate ‘D-rating’ for all of its 3,600 homes in the borough by spring 2021.

But councillors have called for the landlord to go even further - and make the installation of solar panels a priority.

Gary Heaton, Operations Director for parent company Jigsaw Homes, said that the initial focus of its three-year environmental sustainability strategy had been to ensure that none of its tenants were living in fuel poverty.

“There has been a lot of work to make sure that we’ve got efficient boilers and lighting and that the properties are double glazed and have adequate levels of installation,” he told a meeting of Chorley Council’s "green agenda" task group.

“There has been a lot of re-roofing going on - in the region of £900,000 has gone into Longfield Avenue, because we recognised that it needed a lot of investment,” said Mr. Heaton, adding that solar panels had not been installed as part of the work because “modern boilers” had been fitted at the same time.

However, committee member Laura Lennox said that the refurbishment was a “missed opportunity” to introduce renewable energy capacity.

“The electricity from solar panels can be used for things other than heating. It’s free energy - Jigsaw could be benefiting from it and so could the tenants,” Cllr Lennox said.

But she acknowledged that changes to the tariff paid for supplying renewable energy to the national grid mean it is not as profitable as it used to be, although fellow committee member Alex Hilton said that it could still “make some return” for the landlord.

Committee chair Steve Holgate praised Jigsaw for being “ahead of the curve” on energy efficiency, but urged the company - which has installed solar panels on some of its properties in Greater Manchester - to bring them to Chorley next.

"It’s about a mindset - we need to get decision-makers within your organisation and ours to think in a different way,” Cllr Holgate said.

Mr. Heaton stressed that the average rating for Jigsaw’s Chorley properties will be higher than a ‘D-rating’ by next year - but that D, on a sliding scale of A-G, will be the minimum standard for any one dwelling.

“We’ve got some pavement terraces and solid wall terrace properties, where the cost of putting these [energy efficiency] measures in would be enormous,” he said.

Cllr Hilton said that smart meters are “the best educational tool” to help reduce energy consumption.

“People see their energy use in real time,” he said.

The meeting heard that Jigsaw is planning to install smart metres in its communal properties.