Repayment of £23m solar panel loan to Peterborough City Council delayed again after 18 month wait

The repayment of a £23 million loan to Peterborough City Council for the installation of solar panels has been delayed again.

Wednesday, 27th March 2019, 8:06 am
Updated Wednesday, 27th March 2019, 8:11 am
The then city council leader Marco Cereste at the launch of the solar panel scheme in Clarence Road, Peterborough, in 2015

The hefty sum was due to have been repaid 18 months ago by social enterprise Empower Community Management LLP, but another extension of up to six months has now been agreed.

The council remains confident the loan will be returned in full and insists taxpayers will not lose out as it can take over the profitable solar panel schemes should the money not be repaid.

However, concerns have previously been voiced that the council does not have the expertise to run the projects, should it need to.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The money was loaned by the council to Empower back in December 2014 for solar panels to be placed on 7,763 housing association homes across the country, with 426 in Peterborough. It was expected Empower would find a buyer who would pay back the £23 million loan and take on the solar panel schemes, but this has yet to happen.

The council has now agreed to extend the repayment date on a month to month basis for up to six months.

A report published by the authority states that it has received seven Expressions of Interest from major refinancing organisations and that it is “actively exploring these proposals in further detail”.

Empower, which has declined to comment when previously contacted by the Peterborough Telegraph, is currently paying interest on the loan on top of a £10,000 monthly fee to the council.

The authority said it has received a net return of more £2 million in the last four years from the loan.