£23m Peterborough council loan for solar panels to be repaid - more than two years late

A £23 million loan from Peterborough City Council for the installation of solar panels is set to be repaid more than two years after the repayment was due.

Wednesday, 18th September 2019, 11:22 am
Marco Cereste launching the solar panel scheme at Clarence Road EMN-150318-171913009

The hefty sum was due to have been repaid 24 months ago by social enterprise Empower Community Management LLP, but since that time there have been numerous delays.

However, a new buyer to take on the solar panel scheme - and repay the loan - has been identified.

The council is now set to agree a new two month extension for the repayment, lasting until December 1. This is to allow GTS, a financial investor in renewable assets, time to complete due diligence around the transfer.

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Cllr David Seaton, cabinet member for resources at Peterborough City Council, said: “This partnership has been a real success story for the council and for the thousands of residents who have benefited from the installation of solar panels at no cost to themselves and free energy, which will continue in the future.

“It has also generated a hefty regular income for the council and of course our taxpayers. This is money that we have been able to use to provide valuable services for residents at a time when government funding has been cut by more than 80 per cent since 2010 and demand for services has grown rapidly.

“There was always a clear plan for the Empower loan to be repaid in full, owning to the fact it was a short-term loan. I am delighted that we have found a company that will not only do this, but also improve the benefits of the scheme for tenants and social landlords.

“For example, the company will be offering the opportunity for landlords and tenants to have a battery system installed which will allow those households to save any energy that they are not using for use when the panels are not producing, so generating further savings.”

The scheme saw the council in December 2014 loan Empower the £23 million for solar panels to be placed on 7,763 housing association homes across the country, with 426 in Peterborough.

Despite having to agree several extensions for the repayment of the loan, the council was always confident a buyer would be find to take on the project and pay the money back.

The authority charged Empower £10,000 a month, on top of interest on the loan, while it waited to be repaid. So far the council has recouped £2.6 million and will net £90,000 every month until the £23 million loan has been repaid.

The new two month extension for the repayment of the loan is expected to be agreed by the council’s Cabinet on Monday.