“Build it and they will come” was the resolute message in favour of a vital subsea electricity link pounded at the UK’s energy regulator in the Western Isles yesterday. Fearing insufficient schemes will come onstream to justify the £624 million cost to install the cable, Ofgem provisionally refused a 600MW interconnector to export renewable energy from Lewis and Harris to mainland markets. The body said UK consumers pay for new capacity through their energy bills and risked being left to fund an under-utilised link. But dreams to build fields of community turbines for local people are killed off unless the government agency changes its mind warned community wind farm groups. Calum Macdonald, development director for community-run Point and Sandwick Trust and the former MP for the Western Isles emphasised a smaller 450MW link as recommended by Ofgem would see the link commandeered by three corporate developers – at Stornoway, South Lochs and North Tolsta – with next to nothing available for the raft of village schemes in the pipeline. Mr Macdonald highlighted the multi-million pound profits from locally run schemes benefit the island’s economy significantly more than community benefit from the private developers. He said: “One community turbine is worth about 10 corporate generators.” Western Isles Council organised the visit including a non-stop schedule over the day for the three senior Ofgem officials – Cathryn Scott, Beth Hanna and Lois Griffin – who flew up from London.
Energy Voice 12th April 2019 read more »