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Guidance on Photovoltaic (PV) Offers

If your school is considering the installation of Solar PV to generate electricity for its own use or sale to the national grid, the following should be considered before ANY scheme promoted from any source is taken forward:  

All schools

  • Establish the means of acquiring Solar PV does not constitute a finance lease. Guidance for identifying a finance lease can be found at in: SFU: Publications
  • Check whether a lease of the roof space is being requested. Whether the school can grant this will depend on the category of school (please see sections 2 – 4 below). In some cases a licence for access and maintenance may be sufficient.
  • If HCC’s approval is required, a structural engineer’s report needs to be addressed to the County Council and the School confirming that the relevant roof areas can support the proposed design and that no existing roof warranties are invalidated. Any proposed contract should include for this.

  • Roof warranty (ESSENTIAL)
    • Is there a current warranty?
    • How much life is left on Warranty (E.G. relative to life of any PV contract)
    • Will the guarantor agree to PV within warranty agreement
    • What method of fixing can be permitted (bolt through, free standing etc)
    • We would want commitment to obtain a letter from the guarantor post completion
    Roof structure (ESSENTIAL)

    Structural assessment required of existing design tolerance to include

    • Weight of PV panel
    • Ballast load
    • Snow load
    Elevation drawing
    • Roof plans and number of PV per block (ESSENTIAL)
    • Elevation Sun plans, indicating shadows
    Contingency Planning (ESSENTIAL)
    • Contractual arrangements for the temporary removal of panels for maintenance (roof leaks and repairs) or upgrade of surface.
    • Management of the financial implications of temporary removal of panels (it is emphasised that a major roof repair could take several weeks).
  • Check that the contractor’s insurance cover is adequate. If you are insured through the HCC Insurance Service please contact them to determine the appropriate cover should you determine to go forward.
  • Confirmation that the contractor has public liability and property damage insurance cover of £10 million, with both HCC and the Schools as insured parties.
  • Check whether planning permission is required and that the scheme complies with building regulations.
  • If an export meter of above 30kWh is needed the export meter must be installed through the utility supplier. Export meters of less than 30kWh can be installed by an MCS engineer.
  • Ensure the School is provided with a copy of the MCS certification at the end of the installation.
  • Note that all generation related feed-in-tariff administration is the Schools own responsibility. However, HCC can provide some guidance on FIT application form
  • Ensure the contractor provides an agreed health and safety plan with the School.
 
Community Schools
  • Community School buildings are owned by the County Council. The School’s Governing Body cannot enter into a lease – it is for the County Council to decide whether to grant it.
  • Please contact the Property Strategic Asset Management Team on 019 9255 6133 to discuss the Landowner’s Approval requirement. Please send documentation to schoolbuildingchanges@hertfordshire.gov.uk
  • A Business Case template is used so that Community Schools capture all the key information to submit to the Landowner Approval process.
  • It is strongly recommended that Community Schools seek legal advice on the terms and conditions and other documentation provided by the supplier. This can be either from the HCC Legal Department (hyperlink to http://www.thegrid.org.uk/info/traded/legal/) or any legal advisor. It is crucial that the Governing Body is content with the terms and conditions of any agreement which it enters into. Notwithstanding the Landowner Approval requirement, it is the Applicant School which will be bound by the terms of the agreement.
  • Where Landowner Approval is granted for the installation of PV Solar Panels, HCC will grant a lease to the applicant School Governing Body. The lease will also authorise the School Governing Body to enter into a sub-lease with the Applicant Party. The lease will grant the following rights:
  1. A right to install maintain and replace equipment on the roof.
  2. A right to install, maintain and replace cables along defined routes / conduits
  3. A right for others to also access the roof space for maintenance and other purposes
  4. A requirement for the equipment to be removed before the expiry of the lease and for the roof space to be reinstated back to the same condition as per the first day of the lease.
  5. The security of tenure provisions of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1954 shall be specifically excluded.
  • A £500 per annum shall be payable by the school to HCC for the granting of a lease, giving the right to install equipment on a roof.
  • This £500 per annum fee will be waived for not-for-profit Community Benefit Society Solar Panel Suppliers. However, Community School schemes using Community Benefit Society Suppliers will still incur set up legal fees for the lease agreement.
  • The precise heads of terms for all leases shall be determined by HCC Corporate Property Managing Agents, Lambert Smith Hampton.
  • All legal costs incurred by HCC in connection with the grant of a lease shall be payable / recharged to the applicant school.
  • “Schools must also contact HCC Insurance Team regarding proposals to install Solar Panels onto Community School roofs to ensure adequate Insurance for roofs".

Please email insurance@hertfordshire.gov.uk answering the following questions with regards the Solar Panel installation proposal and with the completed Insurance Questionnaire

Solar Panels Questionnaire
  • Could you please advise whether the solar panels will be visible to members of the public?
  • How high will the installation be off the ground?
  • Is it a single floor building?
 
Academies

Academy buildings are leased by the County Council to the Academy Trust. Such leases typically state that:-

  • the academy is not permitted to underlet any part of the property.
  • the academy is not permitted to make any structural alterations/additions/variations to the building without the County Council’s prior written consent. Please contact the Property Estate Management Team on ( 01992 556214.)
Other Schools

The County Council does not own the buildings of Foundation, Voluntary Aided and Voluntary Controlled schools and will therefore not be involved in any leases/consent for structural alterations.

 

Guidance on Feed in Tariff Application Form

This guidance note is designed to help with completing the FITS application to enable sites to claim back money for the generation of energy from their PV installations. It won’t cover every scenario but aims to highlight areas that you may not be aware of and documentation you might need.

The notes assume you are on the main HCC Contract and are billed by Npower, if not you will need to contact your own supplier for their forms, but much of the guidance will be valid as most suppliers will need similar information.

Firstly Npower have an email address and phone number for help –these are very good and will help identify any missing data or queries you may have.

Email address is:  MicroGeneration@npower.com
Phone number : 0800 048 0520

There are a number of supplementary documents you will need, these include

  • The invoice paid by the school for the installation – this has to have ‘paid in full’ stamped or written on the invoice by the installer
  • EPC certificate (or exemption letter if appropriate)
  • Current Electricity Invoice
  • Passport/driving license of owner (person from school)
  • Microgeneration accreditation certificate of the installer

 

The application form that needs filling in can be found at:

Notes on the various sections are below:

Section 1 – Owner Details

The School will need to supply the legal ‘owner’ of the system. This person will need to send in a copy of passport photo/driving license with the application.
Business/Company details will need to be supplied
The EMT can supply a copy invoice and Npower account number on request.
Assuming owner of the system will be claiming the fits so tick yes on the form, if not you will need to supply alternative details here.

Section 2 – Site Info

Address that Solar is installed at, which could be different to Section 1, dependent on your contractual arrangements with your installer

Section 3 – Accreditation

Assuming it’s under 50kw system you need to include a copy of the Microgeneration Accredition Certificate which can be obtained from the installer (they should be accredited) and will need to insert the certificate number on the form. (The installation documents from the supplier should state the size / capacity of the generation system.)
You will also need a copy of the EPC for the property and the date and number put on the form.

Section 4 – Generator Info

All of this data should be available from the installation documents or you can ask the installation company to provide

Section 5 – Installer info

As it states, who installed the system

Section 6 – Meter Info

If you don’t have the make/model etc on the installation documents you can take it off the meter itself. A read is needed here anyhow so a good idea is to take a photo of the meter and include with the application and also keep it as a record. You should be aware if you have an export meter (or it should be in the installation documents) and enter details if appropriate.
There is also the section here to claim generation and fixed export payments or generation payments only, the majority will claim for both, but your individual circumstances may be different.

Section 7 – Supply Info

The other detail needed is from the main billing meter on site, which will be grid connected, EMT can supply MPAN but the school can get manufacturer, type and serial number from the meter. Again wouldn’t hurt to take a picture of this meter and send in with app.
It will be commercial tariff and the school will need to confirm if main meter now turns backwards – this is very unlikely but you do need to check.

Section 8 – Payment Info

This will be dependent on answer to Section 1

Section 9 – Grant Info

The school will need to tick relevant box here

Section 10

Should not be applicable

Section 11

As Section 1 & 8 – this is the School’s decision.

Declarations

Need to tick and sign one declaration in 1-4 and one in 5-6. The School will need to decide which box is relevant to their installation.

Useful questions for Schools to ask Solar Panel Suppliers
  1. With regard to the forecast savings, what is the electricity price and FiT rate assumed?
  2. Is there a chart showing predicted energy generation (including daily max/min) and seasonable variations?
  3. What are the school’s load requirements?
  4. What is the name and country of origin of the panel and inverter manufacturers?
  5. What are the response times for service under warranty?
  6. What is the expected durability of the panels (with evidence) and what is the decline in efficiency with time?
  7. Over a 25 year period, how is the energy generated expected to compare with the energy required to manufacture, commission and maintain the panels?
  8. Has the school considered that the average life span of a roof covering is 20 years. How do the school plan to deal with the eventualities of replacement and repair when the Solar Panels are on the roof?

 

HCC Biomass information for schools

Biomass is an industry term for getting energy by burning wood, and other organic matter. Burning biomass releases carbon emissions, around a quarter higher than burning coal, but has been classed as a "renewable" energy source because plants can be regrown.

If a school would like to look at the option of biomass, then we suggest a wood pellet based solution as the source material is more readily available and can be bought commercially from a range of suppliers.

The school will also need storage for the material as it is quite bulky and should look at the boilers that use a gasification process as this is able to be used for electricity generation as well as heating. If a school is to go down this route it will be slightly more expensive to do this but the payback will be better in the long-run.

Finally the school will need to get an expert who can provide advice about this, specify and handle the installation if required.

For more information on Energy Management please refer to The Grid.