Tower blocks’ ‘free’ heating bill hits £60,000

Temperatures at the Niddrie tower blocks have been soaring. Picture: Greg Macvean
Temperatures at the Niddrie tower blocks have been soaring. Picture: Greg Macvean
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THE heating bill for two huge tower blocks whose residents have been receiving free energy for more than a year is set to top £60,000 – more than double the previous estimate.

A new report into the project revealed the council was still unable to start billing ­residents for their heating, because workers have been unable to get access to link the ­system up to just three of the 170 ­properties.

With the problem not expected to be sorted until June, officials have warned the council will have to pick up the estimated £60,000 heating bill – double the previous estimate of £30,000.

And as there is no guarantee of when the situation will be resolved they have admitted that figure could rise further.

The botched £2.1 million “super boiler” project is ultimately expected to cut bills for residents at Wauchope and Greendykes House near ­Niddrie in half – but has so far ­provided a 100 per cent ­discount because contractors are still to finish the job.

A council report into the saga confirms most of the residents had been connected to the new “district heating” boiler by July 2013, and the remaining three meant the “commissioning process for the system is a longer one”.

Housing chiefs now expect the full system to be online by June.

The report also revealed costs surrounding the new “super boiler” have soared by £700,000, after contractor Easyheat Systems said they needed more cash for extra pipework and joiner costs.

Councillor Steve Burgess, ­housing spokesman for ­Edinburgh Greens, welcomed the introduction of energy-efficient boilers in the Capital but criticised the project for going over budget and said “hard ­questions” had to be asked of the council.

He said: “The overall aim to making heating far more ­efficient to reduce tenants’ bills and cut pollution is welcome but it’s not ideal if projects like this go over budget to this extent because money lost here is money not available to invest ­elsewhere. I’ll certainly be asking hard questions about this to ensure that lessons are learned for the future.”

The city’s housing ­convener, Cllr Cammy Day, said: “District heating is a new technology designed to provide more energy efficient, lower cost heating to residents.

“Most residents have now been connected to the new heating system.

“We are currently ensuring that the full heating system is working effectively and ­efficiently, and plan to have it fully commissioned between April and June 2014 and are currently consulting tenants on the best way to pay for future energy bills.”