Calderdale Council to see if new government strategy could help make homes warmer and cheaper to heat

Richard Armitage, Housing Projects Manager at Calderdale Council, answers UCV Plain Speaker’s questions about whether the increase in Green Deal Communities funding, announced last week as part of the government’s new Community Energy Strategy, is likely to help his team’s work of improving home energy efficiency and reducing fuel poverty.  Richard also outlines how this might tie in with the work of the Calderdale Community Energy community benefit society, which the Council is to set up in partnership with local third sector organisations.

Current advice and subsidies for heating repairs and replacement boilers

Calderdale Council has not yet applied for Green Deal Communities funding.  Up until
now, efforts have been focussed to bring in Energy Company Obligation (ECO) subsidy towards funding insulation schemes across the borough in qualifying areas.  Energy efficiency advice is available along with help for lower income households on qualifying
benefits or tax credits to access ECO subsidy for heating repairs and replacement boilers.  To date this work has brought an estimated £900k ECO subsidy into the borough since the start of the ECO scheme in early 2013.

Low take up for Green Deal Finance

Nationally, take up for Green Deal finance is very low considering the number of
assessments that have been carried out.  Other property owners may have found alternative means to fund energy improvements to their homes.  Whilst this is still a
positive outcome, further details and information on costs, matched funding,
alternative finance etc may not have been collected and disseminated by the government
and other stakeholders in this work.

The other issue to consider is the recent press coverage that has suggested that the
financial savings on energy bills from having insulation fitted have been over
exaggerated, and in some cases has actually led to increased energy use and carbon
emissions in some households as a result of their confidence in the insulation and their
perceived improvement in thermal comfort.  The implications for the Green Deal’s golden
rule principle are significant. [Editor’s note: the golden rule principle is that the cost of Green Deal energy efficiency improvements will not exceed the energy bill savings that result from improving home energy efficiency.]

Monitoring funding opportunities for Calderdale home energy saving and fuel poverty reduction

The Council continues to monitor funding opportunities and the potential benefits for
the local area and will give consideration to an application for the Green Deal
Communities funding in relation to:

  • the government’s recent announcement that the Green Deal will be simplified
  • the proposed changes to the ECO scheme and what this means for Calderdale (the Council will be responding to the imminent consultation by DECC on this matter)
  • current procurement being done by the Leeds City Region for a Green Deal & ECO delivery partner

Business plan for new Calderdale Community Energy company

A business plan to establish the new Calderdale Community Energy Company will be drawn up over the next 2-3 months.  This will look at creating potential future income streams from investment in renewable technologies that attract financial incentives such as the Renewable Heat Incentive and Feed in Tariff, depending on the capital investment
required and the different financing options available.

The aim is to create a revolving fund which will increase the funds available for energy
efficiency work that is tailored to meet the needs of Calderdale residents.

There is the potential for this income stream to be used in association with ECO
subsidy and other finance (such as the Green Deal, householder match funding etc) to fund energy efficiency work to the local housing stock.  However, this idea requires further
exploration to look at its viability, timescales and potential risks and threats
(such as opposition to certain types of renewable technology, the planning process,
costs of the finance amongst others) and how these can be managed / mitigated.  These
matters will be considered as part of the business planning process and given further
consideration by the Council’s Cabinet.

You can read about the new Community Energy Strategy here, and Calderdale Community Energy company here.

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