A FLEDGLING energy firm is powering up to employ hundreds of contractors after winning a £35 million contract.
Livingston-based Home Energy UK will replace boilers and install loft and cavity wall insulation at properties across the central belt.
The firm – which has had to lay-off staff in the past – is now looking forward to creating a mini jobs boom in the wake of what has been a hard time for employment in West Lothian.
Boss Iain Noon said winning the contract had shored up the company’s future. He said: “This is allowing us to grow.”
Work on retrofitting 500 homes in Howden, Livingston, by installing wall insulation is due to start Monday.
Up to 100 sub-contractors will be needed to complete the upgrades for that project alone.
The company will also be improving households in East Calder from next week, with installation programmes to be rolled out in Longstone and Musselburgh next month.
Both private and council-owned homes can be eligible for the energy-saving improvements – which can save an estimated 35 per cent on fuel bills.
A total of £8 million has been ringfenced to go towards social housing upgrades. All of the work must be delivered under the arrangements of the contract by May 2015.
Mr Noon, who co-founded the company three years ago, added: “The funding will be poured back into the community, in turn creating jobs and also helping tackle the fuel poverty suffered by people. In terms of external wall insulation, we’ll be able to do that for free for people in certain households with solid walls. That’s worth £8000 to £9000 (per home).”
The contract is linked to the Scottish Government’s Warm Homes Fund, which aims to provide money for renewable energy projects for those caught up in fuel poverty.
The jobs will be a major shot in the arm for West Lothian, which has been left reeling this year from the closure of meat processing plant Hall’s of Broxburn and milk processor Muller Wiseman Dairies.
Home Energy UK had previously suffered from delays in the roll-out of the Scottish Government’s eco-programme, and had been forced to axe several staff.
Mr Noon said: “We want to create as many apprenticeships as we can as part of the renewable energy sector. This is allowing us to grow in the marketplace as well. We will sub-contract a lot of local people.
“We’ll have things like alarm boxes to dismantle, gas flues to extend, we’ll have painters to redecorate houses. We’ll have a lot of extra trades involved.”
Ruth McKay, Edinburgh chairwoman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “It’s great news in employment terms. It’s an example of a growth industry . . . we need to focus on supporting businesses in that market.”
The firm was created by Mr Noon and business partner Joe Dunn in 2010 and now employs more than 60 people.