Solar Together scheme offers cost-effective solar panel and battery storage installation for residents and businesses
Households and businesses across Wiltshire and Swindon have the opportunity to save on energy bills and generate their own electricity by purchasing high-quality solar panels and battery storage at a competitive price.
Wiltshire Council and Swindon Borough Council are working with iChoosr, independent experts in group-buying, to launch a second Solar Together scheme, following the success of the first in 2022.
Since the first round of the scheme launched in May 2022, over 1,500 homeowners across Wiltshire and Swindon have so far installed over 8,500 solar panels and 720 storage batteries to benefit from generating their own renewable energy. This is also estimated to shrink the carbon footprint of these households by more than 650,000 kilograms of Carbon Dioxide in total.
The prospect of choosing an installer and making the change to renewable energy can be quite daunting, but Solar Together makes the switch to clean energy as hassle-free as possible. The scheme supports people every step of the way, providing clear and objective information that people can trust, so that they can make a well-informed decision and receive expert guidance throughout the process.
The initiative offers solar panels (also known as solar PV) with optional battery storage and electric vehicle (EV) charge points. It also offers battery storage installation for residents who have already invested in solar panels and are looking to maximise how much of their self-generated energy they can use at home and become less dependent on electricity from the grid.
Solar Together operates on a group-buying approach, with the core principle that coming together as a group provides enhanced buying power and allows the approved providers to offer a better price than individual homeowners might get from entering the market alone.
The scheme is now open for registrations in Wiltshire and Swindon and the deadline is 11 August 2023. People who are interested can register for free, and, following a competitive bidding process managed by Solar Together, will then be sent their recommended provider and costs, with no obligation to proceed with the installation.
To register for the scheme, residents must either own their own house or have permission from the landlord to install solar panels. Small and medium-sized enterprises (non-domestic) and Commonhold Associations meeting this requirement can also participate.
Cllr Nick Holder, Wiltshire Council Cabinet Member for Environment and Climate Change, said: "We are really pleased to be offering this scheme for a second year running. The first scheme is on track to deliver almost 700 installations in Wiltshire, totalling more than 5,000 solar panels and resulting in a £6 million investment by residents into the green economy.
"This is a fantastic opportunity for residents and local businesses to join together to access more affordable prices for installation of solar technology. The cost-of-living crisis is particularly challenging at the moment, and this scheme is one of the ways in which households can make long-term savings by generating their own renewable energy, whilst also helping our ambition to reach net zero carbon emissions across the county."
Councillor Jane Milner-Barry, Chair of Swindon Borough Council's Net Zero Policy and Scrutiny Committee, said: "Swindon Borough Council is pleased to be offering a second round of Solar Together to give home owners another opportunity to install quality solar panels and batteries at a market competitive price. With the volatile energy prices we have seen over the past year, now could be a good time to look into whether renewable energy is a smart investment.
"Solar Together is a tried and tested scheme that allows residents to explore, with confidence, whether installing solar panels is right for their property and circumstances. Since the first round last year, Swindon home owners have so far installed over 2,500 solar panels and 230 storage batteries. This is estimated to shrink the carbon footprint of those homes by a total of 195,000 kilograms of Carbon Dioxide. I was delighted to take part in last year's first scheme to get solar panels installed on my own home."
For more information including likely costs and the amount of energy people can expect to generate, people in Wiltshire can visit Solar Together Wiltshire (solartogether.co.uk) and people in Swindon can visit Solar Together Swindon.
Residents from across Swindon and Wiltshire who wish to contact iChoosr can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0800 048 8113.
Wiltshire residents looking for ideas on lowering their carbon footprint and information on accessing support or grants for energy efficiency in homes can visit What you can do as an individual.
Swindon residents can find out more about what they can do to play their part in tackling climate change, while also reading about what other initiatives are already taking place across the town, by visiting: Swindon Borough Council: Be The Change.
'You and Yours' recently focused on customers impacted by Green Energy Together (GET UK)'s failure to deliver, who are in London, Cambridgeshire and Warwickshire only. This is not a company used in Wiltshire as part of the Solar Together scheme.
With regards to the Solar Together Scheme in Wiltshire (2022-2023) which has just come to an end, both installers used, Infinity Renewables and EE Renewables, had great success and satisfaction levels from customers, with over 80% of customers saying that they would recommend Solar Together to their friends and family. Overall, there were 712 installations in Wiltshire, which equates to over 12,900 tonnes of carbon avoided over 25 years (the equivalent to roughly 7,000 cars off roads for a year) and with more than £7.5 million invested in the scheme from our residents. Only 3.6% of customers contacted iChoosr with a complaint and we are satisfied that they have worked to keep in touch with customers to understand and resolve the issues.
Installers working with Solar Together are in a contractual relationship with iChoosr, and the qualification process for the installers involves multiple elements including:
- Evidence of MCS certification plus either HIES or RECC certification
- Evidence of a CRM system that enables them to manage a high volume of customers.
- Evidence that the installer can realise an Insurance Backed Guarantee for workmanship.
- Evidence of Insurance policies that cover liability, works and indemnity.
- Annual Accounts
- Details of Organisation and Employees
- Evidence of Customer Satisfaction Results
- Financial due diligence which is performed by an independent specialist.
Before its qualification in February 2022 GET UK had successfully installed around 1,000 PV installations in multiple programmes; and was qualified and approved to participate most recently in February 2022. Since this time, its performance has deteriorated, and it has not been qualified to bid in further auctions with Solar Together. iChoosr are working hard, alongside industry bodies such as MCS and HIES as well as the councils where these customers have been impacted to work through the issues they are facing as GET UK customers. For those customers who are seeking a deposit refund where there was no installation, iChoosr are helping by highlighting how they can get their deposit refunded which depends on their circumstances.
Therefore we are confident that for Scheme 2 (2023-2024), that irrespective of the installer(s) selected, iChoosr will work with them and us to ensure the best service for its customers and our residents.