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Solar PV Project Generates Huge Savings for Weaver Vale Housing Trust Customers

When Weaver Vale Housing Trust (WVHT) launched its ‘Affordably Warm by 2020’ project the social landlord made a promise to provide all homes with energy efficiency measures or advice by 2020.

But in addition to helping residents to stay warmer in their homes, the scheme aimed to reduce the cost of energy bills – leaving residents with more income to pay for much needed essentials.

Matthew Woolley, Energy Efficiency Officer at Weaver Vale Housing Trust, said:”One of the project objectives was to save our customers money, in addition to installing energy measures that would also contribute to the reduction of carbon emissions.

“This is the reason why one of the measures we chose to focus on was the installation of solar photovoltaic panels – and so we began looking work for a contractor that was able to procure and install panels on 1600 homes.”

Up against the clock

Weaver Vale Housing Trust accessed Fusion21’s Retrofit Framework and awarded Wigan-based Rothwell Plumbing Services (RPS) a £4million contract to deliver the works over an initial three-year period.

But unfortunately, circumstances beyond WVHT’s control led to the contract having to be amended.

Matthew said: “We reduced the number of solar photovoltaic panels to 1250 – delivered over two-years – as we knew we were against the clock following the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s announcement to cut the feed-in tariff rates for solar photovoltaic installations.”

“We originally chose to use Fusion21 because we wanted to get on site quickly, but a huge benefit of Fusion21’s framework was appointing a contractor that could work under tight timescales – we were really impressed with RPS’s speed and professionalism.

Fusion21 did all the hard work and arranged for RPS to get on site quickly. “We were also keen to work with Fusion21 because creating social value through our contracts is really important to us and fits with our ‘Customers in to Work’ strategy – which sees us pledge to help residents to find work through our investments.

“Through accessing the Retrofit Framework, we were able to work with Fusion21’s Community Regeneration Team to create jobs for some of our residents.”

Specialist technology provided lifetime warranty The social landlord chose to install efficient Enphase micro-inverters in its photovoltaic panels – with each system designed to house seven to 12 solar panels.

“Having already conducted a previous pilot, we knew what technology we wanted to install”, added Matthew. “We chose micro-inverters as they are not as prone to failure – and if there becomes an issue with one of the solar panels, those around it are not affected. “These systems also come with a lifetime warranty which ensured we were achieving value for money.”


Maximising efficiencies and generating social value

Thanks to a collaborative approach to procurement and accessing Fusion21’s Retrofit Framework, WVHT has generated 31% in efficiency savings.

In addition, the installations carried out by RPS are set to save each household approximately £150 a year on energy bills and carbon emissions will be reduced by more than 5,200 tonnes a year.

The contract – which sees a variety of post war and modern bungalows; two storey terraced and semi-detached properties treated to the energy saving measures – will deliver residents collective savings of approximately £3.84 million over a 20 year period.

Through the project, RPS has created nine employment opportunities - with one of the roles taken up by a WVHT customer. The project is providing a £12.09 social return for every £1 invested in the project.

Fusion21 is also supporting residents to gain Level 1 Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) and Health & Safety training, and 8 residents are being helped to obtain their Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) cards – improving their chances of securing employment.

“Our programme with Rothwell Plumbing Services has received one of the highest customer satisfaction levels we have ever had – and we’ve been really impressed with how the team has kept the project on track under such a tight schedule,” comments Matthew.

“We have kept in regular contact with residents affected by the works, and our residents who have pre-payment meters are already noticing a reduction in the cost of their energy bills – which is a fantastic result.”

“We are really pleased to see the outcomes the project has delivered to date, and an added bonus has been the project receiving a nomination for a Builder and Engineer Award 2015 – making the shortlist in the ’Sustainable Project of the Year’ category.”