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Energy scheme promises many benefits

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The Green Deal is finally under way and formal arrangements were possible from late January this year. The Department of Energy & Climate Change has described it as a ‘soft launch’. If this was intended to mean that nothing much would happen, they were spot-on.

There seems to be woefully inadequate knowledge about the Green Deal. Most people have either not heard of it or do not really know what it is.

In local government circles, there does not seem to be any common thread.

Many authorities have simply not yet examined this concept; some are circling but without much real intent; while others have already decided there is something here that merits backing with resources.

But while the Green Deal suffers an ignominious entry to the marketplace, most authorities are focusing on the accompanying Energy Company Obligation (ECO).

This will deliver at least £1.3bn in funds to those qualifying organisations that want to improve energy efficiency or have issues with fuel poverty and affordable warmth.

While Green Deal arrangements are voluntary, these deals will go ahead as the energy companies have legally binding targets for carbon saving. It is therefore simply a case of whether you get any of the money or not.

The problem with ECO is that it takes over from previous schemes that had virtually no corporate recognition and were the preserve of the energy manager, environment or sustainability staff.

ECO represents a far more sophisticated regeneration tool and it would be deeply regrettable if its value was not recognised around the corporate management team and cabinet tables.

There are many benefits to be had from ECO, not only sorting out poor-quality housing that councils own, but also engaging in the refurbishment work and earning income that way.

ECO is a complex system but with such riches on offer, time spent getting to grips with it will pay dividends for any authority doing so.

Stephen Cirell, independent consultant

Stephen Cirell is author of A Guide to Solar PV Projects for Local Government and the Public Sector

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