Friday, 4 April 2014





When Riverside Housing Association decided to replace the open fire and storage heaters at my home in Longtown near Carlisle, I was offered no alternative, nor any say in the matter. All I was told was the starting day for the work.

That is how one of Riverside`s distressed tenants starts a letter to this blog. He is one of the estimated  50 victims of the Riverside solar panels` fiasco.

 His letter goes on...

As a means of promoting the new system I was told that it worked on Economy 10  tariff, a rate that is about 30 per cent of the normal rate and that the solar panels Riverside had fitted would provide an income when excess power  generated was fed into the national grid.

When the work was finished, I tried to switch to Economy 10 and was told that only one company had this tariff which was not available to new customers and was being phased out anyway.

As a result, the new system costs far more to run than before, being on premium rate electricity at all times and that any rebate on the solar power goes to Riverside. The last time I did a detailed check with heat and water operating, I was spending nearly one week`s pension every month on electricity,

Apart from the actual unit cost of electricity, the system itself appears to be unsuitable for domestic use. The boiler seems  to be far too big  for one small house and the air pump fitted to the outside of the house has a huge fan powered by electricity that seems to do nothing but cost money and make a lot of noise.

According to the manual on the air pump (left by the installers) the unit should be on its own concrete base and should be sited so that the noise does not affect the neighbours. Instead it is fixed directly to the wall of the house causing vibration when running at full speed and the noise wakens me at any time between 2 am and 4 am.

All of this, including general unreliability has been reported to Riverside and results in someone with the compulsory clipboard coming round. Each person makes the same notes and promises to send someone with more expertise- someone I have yet to meet.

None of this comes a as a surprise to me. It fits in with Riverside`s way of making the company look good in the eyes of the media and the eyes of non-tenants of Riverside
whose rent payments keep the company in business.

Community Voice Carlisle is  the blog of Carlisle Tenants` and Residents` Federation. Information about the Federation is contained in the first post of this blog, dated March 25 2013.

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