£70m to fight Wales fuel poverty

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An additional £70m has been announced to protect households in some of the most deprived parts of Wales from fuel poverty, says newswales.co.uk.

Alun Davies, Minister for Natural Resources and Food, has confirmed that the Welsh Government will allocate £35m in 2014-15 and £35m in 2015-16 to encourage energy companies to invest in Wales.

Energy companies already have an Energy Company Obligation to improve the energy efficiency of UK homes. The £70m will be used as match funding to incentivise them to invest in energy efficiency improvements in homes here in Wales rather than elsewhere in the UK.

The additional funding will sit alongside the Welsh Government’s existing strategic energy efficiency programme, Arbed. Not only will it reduce fuel bills in Welsh homes it will also provide increased opportunities for Welsh businesses and help to create high quality, local jobs.

Speaking at a visit to Fochriw in the Rhymney Valley, a community that has already seen the benefit of Welsh Government’s investment in energy efficiency via Arbed, Alun Davies said:

“Increases in energy prices and the recent economic conditions have meant that more people across the UK have become vulnerable to fuel poverty.

“The Welsh Government is committed to tackling fuel poverty. That is why we have invested heavily in the Arbed scheme, Phase 2 of which has seen energy efficiency measures like external and internal insulation and efficient boilers being installed in over 4790 homes in some of the most deprived parts of Wales.

“This additional £70m will allow us to build on the success of Arbed and ensure economic growth. We will use it to attract and incentivise private companies by offering to match fund their investment in improving the energy of efficiency of Welsh homes.

“Not only will this ensure warmer homes and lower fuel bills in some of the less wealthy areas of Wales, it will also offer new and lucrative opportunities for Welsh business and ensure a healthy supply of high quality job opportunities in communities across Wales.

The Minister was visiting Fochriw to celebrate the installation of solar panels at the local community centre. The panels were donated by Graham Merchants and the Gibson STS Consortium, both contractors who have worked on Arbed improvements within Fochriw.

As a result of Arbed investment in Fochriw, 350 properties have cumulatively benefitted from 1000 individual energy improvements.

Alun Davies added: “It is great to see first hand the difference that Arbed investment has made in Fochriw. Arbed has resulted in 350 properties here benefitting from energy efficiency improvement measures such as external wall insulation and new boilers and controls with more to come. This means 350 households in Fochriw already benefitting from warmer homes and lower bills.

“Also Arbed investment and the generosity of Arbed contractors has resulted in the installation of solar panels here at the community centre. These panels will help ensure lower bills for the centre and generate an income of £750 a year which will directly benefit the wider community.”

The additional £70m for fuel poverty was announced as part of the Welsh Government’s budget for 2014-15. It will help to boost economic growth, create jobs, tackle poverty and protect some of the most vulnerable people in Wales.

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