Council 'borrows to save' £1.5m a year on fuel costs
MOVES to cut the city's carbon footprint will slash energy bills by 70 per cent, saving the city £1.5million a year, says finance supremo Cllr Mark Lowry.
Plymouth City Council's Cabinet on Tuesday gave the green light to Mr Lowry's plans to invest £13million on two environmentally friendly schemes.
All 28,000 street lights in Plymouth will be replaced by energy-saving LEDs. And 19 city-owned buildings will have electricity-generating solar panels installed on their roofs as part of a four-year energy programme.
The investment will save an average of £1.5million a year over the next 20 years and cut carbon emissions by up to 3,200 tonnes a year, Cllr Lowry, the Cabinet member for finance, said.
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"The reason I am doing this is to save money," Cllr Lowry said. "We are able to borrow at a fixed rate of interest that is the lowest for a century.
"We would be crazy not to borrow to save. It makes good economic sense."
Solar photo-voltaic panels with an electricity output of 82.5kW have already been fitted on four council buildings – Midland House, Martins Gate, Douglas House and Frederick Street Youth Centre.
A plan for panels on the Council House is awaiting planning approval.
And another 14 major schemes are in the pipeline.
Cllr Lowry said the first four buildings would save up to £11,000 and reduce carbon emissions by 37 tonnes a year.
"These projects are all about saving the council taxpayer a lot of money and protecting frontline services.
"Of course they also have considerable other benefits, making our city a safer and more environmentally friendly place to live.
"We are joining many other local authorities by embracing the new technology," Cllr Lowry said.
"London, Toronto and Sydney have all had a positive response to LED street lights from residents, drivers and pedestrians."
The high-tech street lights will use less power and require less maintenance. They are also expected to cut night-time crime because they are brighter.
The plummeting price of photovoltaic cells has made the solar panel project more cost-effective. The panels will power council buildings during the day, though it's unlikely enough power will be generated to sell a surplus to the National Grid.
The council is also working with the NHS, Age UK and the Plymouth Guild on the Warm Homes Healthy People scheme.