Stephen Lauri, carbon reduction manager of Queen’s Award-winning commercial recycler and social welfare charity Recycling Lives, comments on the National Housing Federation’s promotion of the British Gas Rent-a-Roof scheme…
“The National Housing Federation has featured British Gas’s ‘Rent-a-Roof’ proposal to the social housing sector on its website. Many other companies in the marketplace are offering a similar type of initiative in which they install solar PV on Registered Provider (RP) properties free of charge in return for a large share of the Feed in Tariff. Landlords are understandably drawn to these schemes as they can often take a share of the Feed in Tariff while their tenants benefit from reduced electricity costs – all without having to finance the installations themselves.
Recycling Lives has established a dedicated carbon reduction team aimed primarily at providing independent advice and support to the social housing sector. Having held recent discussions with all of the major RPs operating within the North West, we have been able to share knowledge and experience with the sector of these prospective ‘rent a roof’ companies. One startling fact that cropped up time and again is just how widely offers for ‘Rent-a-Roof’ schemes ranged!
In line with our commitment to providing the best quality, unbiased advice, we are pleased the see the National Housing Federation promoting such initiatives to its members. However, we would hope to see the Federation offering further guidance and presenting a range of Rent-a-Roof schemes, rather than just this one. This will go some way to assisting the social housing sector in making the most of the Feed in Tariff opportunity and maximising revenue for itself, in addition to providing maximum assistance to its customers and helping to reduce fuel poverty.
We are by no means discouraging programmes such as the one proposed by British Gas. This scheme may well suit some RPs: the social housing sector needs organisations like British Gas who have the financial capacity and infrastructure to successfully grasp the nettle of solar PV installations and get the whole market moving properly.
However, RPs should be aware that there are competitive deals available and that they would be well served taking their time, shopping around and ensuring that they get the best deal. Whilst not being party to the contract, Recycling Lives has been informed by Registered Providers that the most competitive Rent-a-Roof deal – an agreement which has been signed both parties – appears to offer the landlord a 25% share of the Feed in Tariff for 25 years. Other competitive deals seem to offer around £175 (approx. 18%) per roof, per year, right down to the lowest offer we encountered at £50 per roof, per year. To put this into context, the British Gas scheme appears to offer a minimum return of around 4%. We would wholeheartedly encourage social landlords to take their time and examine the terms of the various Rent-a-Roof deals in order to ascertain which company offers the best deal for them.
We echo the National Housing Federation’s recommendation for RPs that do have the ability to raise finance by themselves to invest in solar PV without the assistance of a financial incentive scheme. This will maximise their return and generate a diverse income stream that will be ripe for reinvestment long into the future.”