THE Scottish renewable energy industry has been hit by a delay in a project to bring down the cost of exporting electricity.
The energy watchdog Ofgem has announced that Project TransmiT will be pushed back to March 2014, a year later than originally planned, meaning lower transmission charges will not come into effect until April 2015.
SNP energy minister Fergus Ewing has branded the decision “unacceptable”. Ofgem said that the decision had been made to give energy companies more time to prepare for the overhaul.
Ofgem’s indicative modelling suggested that mainland network charges for wind generation in the north of Scotland would reduce by about 50%, from £25 per kilowatt to £12.21.
Friends of the Earth director Dr Richard Dixon said: “This is a further frustration for renewables on the key issue of transmission charges.”
In an angry response from the Scottish Government, Mr Ewing said: “I am extremely disappointed in Ofgem’s announcement of a further year’s delay in introducing measures to the tackle the long term discrimination against Scottish electricity generators.
“After three years of exhaustive examination of electricity transmission charging and associated connection arrangements, Scottish generators are facing a further three months of uncertainty - and a further 12 months before any new arrangements take effect - while the benefits for consumers risk being delayed.”
Tom Greatrex, Labour’s shadow energy minister and MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West, also criticised the delay but warned: “While the SNP energy spokesman in Holyrood makes accusations of prejudice, he should reflect that the SNP’s supposedly unanswerable case for a postage-stamp model for transmission costs would leave the consumer with an additional £7 billion bill, with consumers subsiding generators as a result.
“When Scottish generators receive around a third of the UK’s overall support for renewables with less than 8.5% of the population share, the greatest threat to renewable investment comes from the prospect of separation, not from delays to Ofgem’s reforms.”