Gentoo reveals multimillion-pound deal to install solar panels on hundreds of Sunderland homes

Gentoo staff installing PV panels.
Gentoo staff installing PV panels.
Have your say

HUNDREDS of Gentoo tenants across Wearside are to see their homes fitted with solar panels as part of a multimillion pound contract.

The property business has signed an £8million-plus agreement with social enterprise Empower Community, which will see Empower acquire Gentoo’s existing photovoltaic (PV) installations on 2,327 homes and six corporate buildings.

PV panels on homes in Doxford Park

PV panels on homes in Doxford Park

Under the deal, tenants will continue to receive free electricity generated by their home’s (PV) system, while Empower will take a cut of the profits from any extra energy going into the National Grid under the Government’s Feed-in Tariff scheme, money which previously went to Gentoo.

The social enterprise will use the money to pay back the £10million-plus loan it received from a pension fund to finance the deal, with anything left over invested in community projects on Wearside, while Gentoo will use the seven-figure sum it receives to install new PV equipment in up to 3,000 homes.

Empower’s Alex Grayson said: “The beauty of this deal is that everybody’s interests are aligned: the investor makes solid financial returns, with measurable social and environmental impact; tenants enjoy access to free daytime power, which helps them escape fuel poverty; Gentoo enjoys an ongoing return and financing to continue their exciting developments and the community receives funding for local initiatives from the profits.”

Gentoo chief executive Peter Walls said: “We’re always looking for new ways to make a positive difference and influence change – this innovative deal with Empower Community does just that.

“Fuel poverty is a genuine concern with rising energy costs – ‘heat or eat’ is a reality that many vulnerable individuals in our society are now facing.

“This is a unique way to deliver more solar solutions to our customers, at no cost, with the additional benefits that the local community fund will bring.”

The changes will not affect the electricity existing customers receive nor affect the maintenance of their PV system. Tenants will continue to receive free electricity generated by the system and maintenance will still be carried out by Gentoo.

Gentoo tenants Victor and Joyce Cowie have had PV panels fitted to their Washington home.

“We are delighted with the work that has been done,” said Victor.

”We know people who’ve had PV panels fitted so sought lots of advice beforehand. The potential cost savings were a big enough incentive for us to take up the offer considering the amount of money we should save on our energy bill.”