Scottish Power’s plans to close Longannet and abandon the proposed gas-fired power station at Cockenzie (your report, 19 August) is a huge blow to Scotland.
The company rightly blames the National Grid transmission charges of £40 million a year for Longannet and Cockenzie ouput, which mainly goes to the Central Belt of Scotland, whereas a power station in Cornwall, which is much further from large centres of population, receives a subsidy of £5.80 per kilowatt for connecting to the grid.
The SNP has raised this with successive UK Governments over the past ten years but neither Labour nor the Tories have listened and apart from planning issues the Scottish Government has no powers over energy. The UK Government is going to build very expensive nuclear power stations at Hinkley Point in Somerset at a cost of £45 billion and has guaranteed EDF and China that electricity wholesale prices will triple in ten years’ time to meet the cost of building it.
Yet the UK Government has refused to pay £1bn to set up a world-leading carbon capture plant in Scotland which was the first area to submit detailed plans but is now tipped to go to the north of England.
The National Grid’s charges, which even after proposed changes next year mean Scotland’s producers still pay a premium, are crazy, particularly as the UK as a whole is facing energy shortfalls and Scotland is a net exporter of electricity producing 12 per cent of UK’s needs.
Warrender Park Road
It is clearly devastating news to see Scottish Power taking the decision to close the Longannet power station in Fife in March 2016, with the associated loss of hundreds of jobs. The key reason for this is an iniquitous transmission charging regime, where pricing is based on location, that discriminates against Scotland. So, while we host 12 per cent of electricity generation in the UK we pay 35 per cent of the network’s running costs.
This means that Longannet pays £40 million a year to connect to the National Grid while an equivalent generator in Yorkshire would pay £15m and a power station in London would receive a subsidy of around £4m.
It is nonsensical to lose such a huge capacity at a time of tight supply margins and it is vital that the UK Government ends once and for all an iniquitous charging regime that discriminates against all forms of power generation in Scotland.
To add insult to injury UK Government proposals for the new Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in Somerset will see French and Chinese corporations receive a subsidy of between £800m to £1bn a year for generation costs, double the present going rate. For those who fought to retain the Union under a slogan of “Better Together”, this clearly did not extend to the transmission charging regime which is illogical, unfair and if we are to keep the lights on in need of urgent reform.