Council to invest £2.3m in scheme to fund renewable energy projects in the county

Win-win deal: Ed Turner

Win-win deal: Ed Turner

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Council Reporter, also covering Oxford city centre. Call me on 01865 425429

OXFORD taxpayers will fund renewable energy projects around the county as part of a £2.3m deal.

The money is set to be loaned to a community-based social enterprise called Low Carbon Hub to fund solar panels for schools and businesses around Oxfordshire.

In return for this money, the city council is expecting to get its money back, plus around £34,000 interest, which works out at about 1.4 per cent.

But the city council’s financial chief has warned that the return on the investment is “minimal” and there are risks associated with the investment.

The city council’s deputy leader Ed Turner has said the money would be invested back into some of the authority’s capital projects.

He said: “We think it is win-win because on the one hand it represents a good investment for the council and we will get our money back with interest and it will enable Low Carbon Hub to reduce the carbon footprint of buildings in Oxford and elsewhere.”

When asked whether taxpayers’ money from Oxford should be used to subsidise schemes around the county, Mr Turner said: “It wouldn’t be the right thing to do if it cost us money but the benefit from it will be ploughed back into Oxford.

“It makes good sense and at the end of the day we all share one climate, and climate change doesn’t stop at the boundaries of the ring road.”

He added that the city council earns an average of 0.89 per cent on its other investments.

Low Carbon Hub has a list of projects it wants to get off the ground and it was agreed the council would loan the funding. It is estimated that the project will fund solar panels for 25 schools, of which three will be in Oxford, and two businesses, none in the city.

But Nigel Kennedy, the city council’s head of finance, said: “The financial case is not strong since the return in cash terms is minimal for the increased risks taken on, the greatest of which is the failure of the share issue to enable the return of the council’s loan in the specified period.”

The city council has agreed savings of £5.4m as well as increase council house rents, parking charges and council tax.

The money for the loan comes from the city council’s capital programme but this is phased over several years.

One of the projects which will benefit from the city council’s capital project later this year is the refurbishment of Cutteslowe Park’s lower pavilion.

Kit Villiers, chairman of the Friends of Cutteslowe Park, said: “The pavilion does look a bit of a dump and an eyesore at the moment. It would be a pity to think of the work not happening quickly.”

The Oxford Mail contacted Barbara Hammond of Low Carbon Hub, but she declined to comment.

A decision on the scheme will be made by the city executive board at at 1.30pm on Wednesday, at Oxford Town Hall.

 

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Comments (12)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

7:31am Mon 9 Jun 14

Geoff Grace says...

Where are they getting all this money from in times of austerity ?
Where are they getting all this money from in times of austerity ? Geoff Grace
  • Score: 3

10:48am Mon 9 Jun 14

gans shakes says...

I live in a Sheltered Tenancy that is a bungalow with loads of roofing. Solar panels would be quickly repaid by tenants like myself who have utility bills that are out of control. So install the solar panels, and use the moneys that would normally go to the utility bills, save the environment, and it would be great to reduce dependency on the gas and the electricity bills that have been soaring far and above the official inflation rate.
I live in a Sheltered Tenancy that is a bungalow with loads of roofing. Solar panels would be quickly repaid by tenants like myself who have utility bills that are out of control. So install the solar panels, and use the moneys that would normally go to the utility bills, save the environment, and it would be great to reduce dependency on the gas and the electricity bills that have been soaring far and above the official inflation rate. gans shakes
  • Score: 0

11:06am Mon 9 Jun 14

gans shakes says...

“The city council has agreed savings of £5.4m as well as increase council house rents, parking charges and council tax.”

My rent has been soaring in price over the past three years, and any further increase will add stress. I can barely get by withthe increase of the utilities and other necessities of Sheltered Tenancies for those that are Disabled and/or Pensioners.
“The city council has agreed savings of £5.4m as well as increase council house rents, parking charges and council tax.” My rent has been soaring in price over the past three years, and any further increase will add stress. I can barely get by withthe increase of the utilities and other necessities of Sheltered Tenancies for those that are Disabled and/or Pensioners. gans shakes
  • Score: 1

12:17pm Mon 9 Jun 14

Lord Palmerstone says...

Nice little earner Carbon Hub, nice little earner....
Nice little earner Carbon Hub, nice little earner.... Lord Palmerstone
  • Score: 4

1:10pm Mon 9 Jun 14

mytaxes says...

But Nigel Kennedy, the city council’s head of finance, said: “The financial case is not strong since the return in cash terms is minimal for the increased risks taken on, the greatest of which is the failure of the share issue to enable the return of the council’s loan in the specified period.”

No doubt we pay Mr. Kennedy a lot of money for his expertise so why do our councillors ignore his advice? It is interesting that Ms Hammond has declined to comment on what she plans to do with our money, perhaps she is too important to give us further information, very much like my councillor who told me that council tax had to be raised as there was no money left for basic services?
But Nigel Kennedy, the city council’s head of finance, said: “The financial case is not strong since the return in cash terms is minimal for the increased risks taken on, the greatest of which is the failure of the share issue to enable the return of the council’s loan in the specified period.” No doubt we pay Mr. Kennedy a lot of money for his expertise so why do our councillors ignore his advice? It is interesting that Ms Hammond has declined to comment on what she plans to do with our money, perhaps she is too important to give us further information, very much like my councillor who told me that council tax had to be raised as there was no money left for basic services? mytaxes
  • Score: 4

1:20pm Mon 9 Jun 14

Andrew:Oxford says...

How about earning some money instead?

One of the largest players in the UK energy market has a base right here in Oxford - British Gas employs around 1000 people at the Oxford Business Park.

The City Council has large plots of land at the P&R sites around the City.

Why doesn't the council lease the "airspace" at the P&R sites out to this major local employer on a revenue sharing basis?

1300 parking spaces at Redbridge, each with two 250W panels would offer up to 650Kw of energy generation.

There would potentially be a double benefit in that in winter cars would be shielded from frost by the panels (saving energy in defrosting) and in the summer shield from the sunshine (saving energy in cooling).

Clearly this win-win-win would have to be sanctioned by the Notorious Oxford(shire) faction of the CPRE as they are bound to be visible from somewhere.
How about earning some money instead? One of the largest players in the UK energy market has a base right here in Oxford - British Gas employs around 1000 people at the Oxford Business Park. The City Council has large plots of land at the P&R sites around the City. Why doesn't the council lease the "airspace" at the P&R sites out to this major local employer on a revenue sharing basis? 1300 parking spaces at Redbridge, each with two 250W panels would offer up to 650Kw of energy generation. There would potentially be a double benefit in that in winter cars would be shielded from frost by the panels (saving energy in defrosting) and in the summer shield from the sunshine (saving energy in cooling). Clearly this win-win-win would have to be sanctioned by the Notorious Oxford(shire) faction of the CPRE as they are bound to be visible from somewhere. Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: 3

2:05pm Mon 9 Jun 14

gawebber says...

Someone must be getting very rich out of this - Hammond?
2.3 million to fund panels for just 25 schools and 2 businesses seems like poor value.
Someone must be getting very rich out of this - Hammond? 2.3 million to fund panels for just 25 schools and 2 businesses seems like poor value. gawebber
  • Score: 4

4:24pm Mon 9 Jun 14

Oxonian says...

gans shakes wrote:
I live in a Sheltered Tenancy that is a bungalow with loads of roofing. Solar panels would be quickly repaid by tenants like myself who have utility bills that are out of control. So install the solar panels, and use the moneys that would normally go to the utility bills, save the environment, and it would be great to reduce dependency on the gas and the electricity bills that have been soaring far and above the official inflation rate.
How will solar panels on 25 schools "save the environment"? I hate this phrase (`and "save the planet"), as people who use it pretend that some small action (like installing solar panels or putting a brick in your lavatory cistern) will save the planet. It's a thoughtless notion.
[quote][p][bold]gans shakes[/bold] wrote: I live in a Sheltered Tenancy that is a bungalow with loads of roofing. Solar panels would be quickly repaid by tenants like myself who have utility bills that are out of control. So install the solar panels, and use the moneys that would normally go to the utility bills, save the environment, and it would be great to reduce dependency on the gas and the electricity bills that have been soaring far and above the official inflation rate.[/p][/quote]How will solar panels on 25 schools "save the environment"? I hate this phrase (`and "save the planet"), as people who use it pretend that some small action (like installing solar panels or putting a brick in your lavatory cistern) will save the planet. It's a thoughtless notion. Oxonian
  • Score: 4

4:44pm Mon 9 Jun 14

Lord Palmerstone says...

Oxonian wrote:
gans shakes wrote:
I live in a Sheltered Tenancy that is a bungalow with loads of roofing. Solar panels would be quickly repaid by tenants like myself who have utility bills that are out of control. So install the solar panels, and use the moneys that would normally go to the utility bills, save the environment, and it would be great to reduce dependency on the gas and the electricity bills that have been soaring far and above the official inflation rate.
How will solar panels on 25 schools "save the environment"? I hate this phrase (`and "save the planet"), as people who use it pretend that some small action (like installing solar panels or putting a brick in your lavatory cistern) will save the planet. It's a thoughtless notion.
It'll impress the Chinese so much that instead of thinking of Britain as a kind of open sewer with Bicester Village in the middle they'll begin to worship us and shut all their coal-fired power stations.
[quote][p][bold]Oxonian[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]gans shakes[/bold] wrote: I live in a Sheltered Tenancy that is a bungalow with loads of roofing. Solar panels would be quickly repaid by tenants like myself who have utility bills that are out of control. So install the solar panels, and use the moneys that would normally go to the utility bills, save the environment, and it would be great to reduce dependency on the gas and the electricity bills that have been soaring far and above the official inflation rate.[/p][/quote]How will solar panels on 25 schools "save the environment"? I hate this phrase (`and "save the planet"), as people who use it pretend that some small action (like installing solar panels or putting a brick in your lavatory cistern) will save the planet. It's a thoughtless notion.[/p][/quote]It'll impress the Chinese so much that instead of thinking of Britain as a kind of open sewer with Bicester Village in the middle they'll begin to worship us and shut all their coal-fired power stations. Lord Palmerstone
  • Score: 0

6:26pm Mon 9 Jun 14

Geoff Grace says...

Does anyone have any evidence that these things will last for 25 years ?
The manufacturers do not give any guarantee of this at all. I don,t think they actually make any profit at all.
The council are on their own ! Spending our taxes !
Furthermore when we need the energy in winter these things produce hardly anything .
Does anyone have any evidence that these things will last for 25 years ? The manufacturers do not give any guarantee of this at all. I don,t think they actually make any profit at all. The council are on their own ! Spending our taxes ! Furthermore when we need the energy in winter these things produce hardly anything . Geoff Grace
  • Score: 2

9:02pm Mon 9 Jun 14

mytaxes says...

Perhaps our councillors together with Low Carbon Hub can provide a complete breakdown of the costs to the Oxford Mail for publication. It's about time there was some accountability to the taxpayers.
Perhaps our councillors together with Low Carbon Hub can provide a complete breakdown of the costs to the Oxford Mail for publication. It's about time there was some accountability to the taxpayers. mytaxes
  • Score: 4

9:44am Tue 10 Jun 14

Wantage23 says...

Geoff Grace wrote:
Does anyone have any evidence that these things will last for 25 years ?
The manufacturers do not give any guarantee of this at all. I don,t think they actually make any profit at all.
The council are on their own ! Spending our taxes !
Furthermore when we need the energy in winter these things produce hardly anything .
THe only thing likely to need replacing is the inverter every 10 years which is pretty nominal in cost. There's very little which will break on the panels. The idea they don't generate when its cloudy/ in winter is a myth, at worst you get a 10% reduction in efficiency. Those that invest should get payback in around 7-10 years still even though the government have reduced the incentive.

I think its good the Council are offering Schools long term protection on their energy costs which will only ever go up. Its investing for the future rather than looking at a short term " we need to save money now" view.

If you want to see the success of solar, look at Germany who have one of the highest levels of renewables in Europe.
[quote][p][bold]Geoff Grace[/bold] wrote: Does anyone have any evidence that these things will last for 25 years ? The manufacturers do not give any guarantee of this at all. I don,t think they actually make any profit at all. The council are on their own ! Spending our taxes ! Furthermore when we need the energy in winter these things produce hardly anything .[/p][/quote]THe only thing likely to need replacing is the inverter every 10 years which is pretty nominal in cost. There's very little which will break on the panels. The idea they don't generate when its cloudy/ in winter is a myth, at worst you get a 10% reduction in efficiency. Those that invest should get payback in around 7-10 years still even though the government have reduced the incentive. I think its good the Council are offering Schools long term protection on their energy costs which will only ever go up. Its investing for the future rather than looking at a short term " we need to save money now" view. If you want to see the success of solar, look at Germany who have one of the highest levels of renewables in Europe. Wantage23
  • Score: -6

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