Council to fast-track solar panels scheme

PLANS to install solar energy panels at a Boston leisure centre are to be treated as ‘urgent’ and fast-tracked by Boston Borough Council.

The Geoff Moulder Leisure Centre (GMLC), in Rowley Road, is the site recommended for the solar roof panels – estimated to cost £124,294 to install.

At a cabinet meeting yesterday (Tuesday) members voted to move forward with the plans and complete all necessary surveys, contracts, and register in time for the Government’s energy scheme – Feed in Tariffs (FIT) which gives financial rewards to those investing in renewable energy.

The deadline for this is December 12 – from which date the Government will cut solar subsidies by about half. This means the council’s profit from the investment could drop significantly.

The forecast profit over 25 years for the GMLC is now £637,277, less than previously estimated by the council.

But if the council fails to hit the deadline before the solar subsidies are cut – this could fall to about £400,000.

At the meeting, Coun Peter Bedford, leader of the council, said: “Discussions are taking place at county level and we should know in the next 24 hours whether there is any possibility of including the Geoff Moulder Leisure Centre within the schedule.”

He added that ‘the mayor has agreed that such a decision should be treated as urgent’ and said this would mean not referring the matter to full council.

An earlier report underestimated the amount of energy the solar panels could generate at the GMLC site at 50 per cent. This is now anticipated to be between 80-90 per cent, meaning the energy saving made could be much higher.

Speaking at the meeting, Coun Bedford added: “It is recommended that the solar scheme is fully-financed by the council and fast-tracked.”

If the council fails to meet the deadline it will decide later this month whether to go ahead with the plans based on the lower tariffs.

Boston Crematorium and the Municipal Buildings, in West Street, were two other sites considered for the solar panels but GMLC was chosen as it uses the most energy of the three and is therefore expected to provide the greatest profit.

After installation, the solar panels are expected to generate ‘payback’ savings in almost seven years.