Solar panels helping residents' purses and our planet

Our installation of solar panels on more than 2,000 homes across Plymouth has led to big cost savings for residents.

Residents with the panels have benefitted from free electricity at certain times of the day, helping to cut their energy bills.

We installed over 26,500 panels on our homes between April 2012 and December 2015.

According to the latest figures from the Low Carbon Exchange, which manages the installations on our behalf, we’ve produced 24,775,735kwh, which equates to a saving of 12,997,351kg of C02.

That is the equivalent of:

  • a car travelling 39,005,049 miles (or to the moon and back 81 times)
  • a bus travelling 75,267,657 miles (or to the moon and back 157 times)
  • a train travelling 134,145,655 miles (to the moon and back 280 times)
  • planting 424,285 trees
  • boiling a kettle 254,364,211 times

And residents with the panels agree they’ve been beneficial. Joan Stuckey, of Camels Head, had them fitted. She said: “If you use it at the right time, you do make savings. In the winter, I reckon I get about eight hours of free energy, more in the summer. I haven’t heard anyone say a bad thing about them.”

We receive a Feed in Tariff from the Government for all the electricity generated by the panels and any electricity which doesn’t get used goes back into the national grid for which we receive a small additional payment.

It was the level of Feed in Tariff which made it economic for us to install the panels but due to changes in the tariff in 2015, we had to stop the installation programme.

To date, PCH Energy – the subsidiary company which manages the solar panels – has received £4m for the electricity produced. This has mainly been used to pay operating costs and re-pay some of the initial investment that PCH made in the company.  

However, it donated £400,000 by Gift Aid this year to PCH, which is available to support any of our core services such as maintaining decent homes and estates for residents, building new homes and supporting our green environmental activities.

Ian Johnston, Lead Management Accountant for PCH Energy, said: “The installation of solar panels helps to alleviate fuel poverty and reduce the city’s carbon footprint. It is covering its costs and generating additional income for PCH to support other services.  As a company, PCH Energy does do some great work for the tenants who have the panels by making sure they are maintained and work effectively.”