A single mother who lives with her disabled daughter is demanding the removal of solar panels from her council roof.
Brittany Haughton has already gone to the trouble of turning off the panels because ‘they don’t save her any money’.
The 26-year-old, who has autism, moved into the 3-bedroomed council house in December 2020 after being on the waiting list for over two years.
But now she is locked into a 25-year long contract with the Community Energy Scheme (CES) – and wants action to remove them taken now.
Brittany now faces the dilemma of having to accept the solar panels or go back onto the waiting list for a house without the modern roof.
The house in Blurton is a Stoke-on-Trent City Council property but the fuel bill issues have caused Brittany extreme anxiety.
The mum-of-two told Stoke-on-Trent Live : “The panels were not saving me any money. I was still paying through the roof for electricity. I don’t see the point of them being on.
“It has been stressing me out. I’m a single mom – it’s just shocking. I am worried in case debt collectors come knocking on my door.
“I’ve got autism so I have problems in social situations. I struggle to read body language as well. I don’t like going out at all and I don’t like strangers in my home. I don’t need this. My anxiety is through the roof.”
Brittany added: “If I hadn’t accepted this house I would have gone back on the waiting list. I first went on the list in 2018 so I had already been waiting for two years.
“This was my ideal house and I needed it because one of my girls has special needs so she requires her own space so I had to accept the house, I couldn’t afford to wait any longer.
“I want the solar panels down – I’ve always wanted that. I’m very disappointed.”
CES says any tenants who turn off the solar panels are in breach of their contract.
A CES spokesman said: “Throughout the coronavirus pandemic we were extremely aware that many people were impacted financially. We were therefore very flexible in our approach to customer payments, and set up a bespoke Stoke-based team who recently started conversations with those customers who were not paying their bills to see how we could support them in doing so.
“Options available to customers who engage with our team and provide an accurate meter reading could, for example, include 24-month payment plans or an export to the traditional energy grid for new energy use.
“Given our supply and charges are not impacted by wholesale supply or costs, we reduced our base price for solar usage by five per cent from October 1.
“In practical terms that’s an average saving of 35 per cent against Ofgem’s current price cap.
“Ofgem has now indicated that it will increase the price cap by over 50 per cent in April. Taking anticipated inflation into account, we expect that in April our prices will be in the region of 55 per cent cheaper than the price cap.
“We’ve worked hard to find a way to get sustainable and affordable energy to those who would otherwise completely miss out.
“We know ours is currently the only way to achieve this – there is no alternative scheme with the same offering – and we are determined to make it as easy and beneficial as possible to our customers.
“We continue to welcome all tenants to get in touch if they have any questions or concerns so that we can take appropriate action to support them.”
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.