FIVE families in Blackbird Leys have an extra reason to hope it will be a sunny summer – it will mean free electricity.
Oxford City Council has had solar panels installed on five homes as a trial to reduce energy bills, meaning the more the sun shines, the less electricity the residents need to buy from their power companies.
Valerie and Fred Parrott have had the solar panels out on their roof in Jourdain Road.
Mrs Parrott, 72, said: “The council asked if we were willing to have these put on the house.
“Because it’s a council house I didn’t really feel like I could say no.”
The solar panels from all five homes in Jourdain Road, Pegasus Road and Sandy Lane are predicted to produce 10,700 kWh of electricity from the sun a year, enough to keep a TV on for eight-and-half-years.
As part of the scheme, the residents have also been given timers to switch on applicances during the day, so the solar panels are powering them.
Mr Parrott with the control panel in their loft
It took five weeks for the panels to be installed, but Mrs Parrott said it was worth the inconvenience. She said: “When the sun comes out we’re getting free electricity, we’re hoping for good weather now.”
The retired Corpus Christi College scout (cleaner) said: “I would like to reduce my bills.
“It’s all a bit high at the moment. Everyone’s utility bills are going up. It’s not much of a pension, and £10 a week of that goes on utilities.
“I would like a bit of extra money for me to spend, even if I only save £3 a week.”
Any extra electricity will be sold by the city council to the National Grid.
Southern Solar installed the panels at the homes at a total cost of £23,500.
The council is hoping the excess electricity going back to the National grid will earn about £1,650 a year, meaning they will be paid off in 14 years.
Board member for Oxford Clean and Green John Tanner said: “I want to see these panels on every council house in Oxford, but it’s about getting the initial investment first.
“The city council is serious about tackling climate change and bringing down utility bills, and this is the best way to do that.”
Green Party city councillor David Williams welcomed the move, adding: “It’s not about making a profit, it’s about cutting carbon emissions.
“You can put them on every roof, even on Victorian and Edwardian buildings, it’s just about tweaking how many and where you put them.”
Board member for housing Scott Seamons said: “I hope that we will see these being put on more houses next year.
“It’s just about finding the money to put them on as many buildings as possible.”