We finally have the Social Housing Green Paper ‘A new deal for social housing’. It’s been a long time coming, so was it worth the wait?
We help housing associations navigate the often tricky issues involved in saving, buying and producing energy. Whether you are a generator or supplier of community energy, looking to improve SAP ratings of your stock, replacing your communal energy systems or requiring Energy Performance Contracting (EPC) arrangements to save energy, we are ideally placed to help you. Housing associations are often the only organisation in communities trying to address the issues of living in cold conditions, which impact on health, education and work outcomes for tenants.
We have advised housing associations on everything from large-scale solar rooftop energy installations to biomass boilers and district heating schemes. After the reductions in the Feed-in Tariff subsidy (FiT) initially set many schemes back, rooftop solar is now making a return and is no longer reliant on FiT subsidy, and the issues with funders are still prevalent but are surmountable. Changes in the energy market make producing your energy and selling on any excess a realistic prospect, which is an exciting proposition for both high and lower energy-use business.
As well as producing energy, we have advised central government, through the energy saving trust, on the different funding models for retrofitting schemes to save energy - so have a unique insight into the operation of the various models. Installing external or internal wall insulation, voltage optimisers, battery units, etc. are all now accepted parts of asset-management strategies to reduce fuel poverty and improve homes for tenants. We advised on many of the retrofit frameworks that are available to housing associations and local authorities such as the Surefire scheme procured by whg.
Funding energy improvements to non-tenanted assets, through savings from utility bills, can be a complex but ultimately rewarding way of investing in communal or commercial assets. We have considerable experience of managing the risk areas in these EPC arrangements including the extent to which saving are guaranteed, re-basing energy costs when changes happen in your organisation and looking at defects and response times if energy saving equipment turns out to be faulty.
We also have considerable expertise in understanding the different funding regimes for energy-saving works and their impact on subsidies. We have advised on multi-million-pound schemes subsidised through CESP (Community Energy Savings Programme) in the early 2000s, then ECO 1 and 2, renewable heat incentive payments and also funding through ERDF priority axis 4 – promoting the shift to a low-carbon economy. Understanding the funding regimes and compliance is key to a successful project.
The opportunities to produce green energy, sell energy or save energy through retrofitting to lift tenants out of fuel poverty have never been greater. We are committed to this agenda, which enables us to understand your overall objectives and drive projects through to you. Get in touch to see how we can help you.
Provisions within the Housing and Planning Act that remove the need for housing associations (“HAs”) to obtain consent from the Regulator to dispose of social housing (as well as to merge or enter new group structures) come into force on 6 April.
Such freedoms will allow HAs greater flexibility over how they use their assets and, potentially, how they structure their businesses. Our expert panel gathered to discuss the possible opportunities the deregulatory measures offer, together with the likely hurdles. Read the outcome of their discussion here.
A projects lawyer, specialising in local authority and housing sectors.
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