Dimplex Solar PV Helps Social Housing in St Helens

Merseyside based housing association Helena Partnerships, is tackling tenant fuel poverty, thanks to the installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels from Dimplex.

The Helena Partnerships project involved fitting PV systems to over 40 homes, with the primary aim of achieving reductions in residents’ fuel bills. The Dimplex equipment is now generating free electricity for occupants but also generating on-going revenue for Helena Partnerships from the Feed-in Tariffs.

Starfish Communities Ltd. acted as consultant on the project, which involved a total of 41 1950’s and 1960’s homes, varying in size from one-bedroom bungalows to larger family homes. Starfish aims to help businesses and communities innovate to become more sustainable, and worked with Helena Partnerships and Valueworks to ensure best value procurement and smooth progress.

Martin Gerrelli, managing director of Starfish, explains: “Our role here was to provide Helena Partnerships with a clear roadmap on all stages of the project and after researching the options available, we decided on Dimplex as a partner, for its combination of high quality panels, reasonable pricing and wide-ranging customer support.

“We knocked on every door to consult residents on this opportunity to have PV installed on their homes, as it was obviously essential to have tenant support. Although some residents were unfamiliar with the technology, once they heard about how the panels can help reduce their electricity bills, the vast majority were keen to get involved.”

Individual surveys were carried out on each property to be fitted with the PV panels, Dimplex then put together individual designs, ranging in size from 6 to 12 panels, averaging around 2kW per home.

Starfish has worked with Helena Partnerships for several years and have already helped Helena in 2010 to become the first housing association in the UK to gain the Microgeneration Certification Scheme accreditation for its own Propertycare division, which carried out these PV installations.

In some cases, additional work to the homes’ electrical systems or loft spaces needed to be carried out to ensure a safe and robust installation. A member of the Dimplex Renewables team was
on site for the initial installations in case of queries. However, fitting the Dimplex systems presented no problems and the rolling programme of installations progressed smoothly.

The project was completed prior to the Feed-in Tariff rate reductions. Helena Partnerships has been able to invest the revenue earned from the higher rate tariff in further renewable technology projects that have taken place elsewhere across its housing stock of 13,000 homes, within St Helens.

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