UK wind energy - Wind farms will inflate electricity bills, power expert warns

Electricity bills for average families will soar by £200 a year

Electricity bills for average families will soar by £200 a year because of plans to introduce hundreds of wind farms across the country, according to the former chief of ScottishPower.
In a fierce attack on ministers who are backing moves to introduce more wind farms to Scotland, Sir Donald Miller, who chaired the energy company between 1982 and 1992, described their plans as "alarming". He added: "It is difficult to believe that they are fully aware of the damage they are doing." Miller, who said he was not opposed to wind farm technology, said his objections to the plans were founded on what he claimed was a failure to plan properly for the enormous switch in energy production. The Executive wants 18% of Scotland’s electricity to come from renewables by 2010 and is considering raising that to 40% by 2020. A favourable planning system has been put in place and the present 13 large wind farms in Scotland is expected to rocket in the next five years. Twenty-five more sites have been approved, while another 62 are in the planning system. At least another 100 pre-application proposals are in the pipeline.

The Tories seized on Miller’s comments last night, saying they showed that the drive for renewable energy was being introduced without thought of the effect on families. Miller said consumers and businesses would be the main victims, and he warned of excessive price rises. In a letter to Scotland on Sunday, published today, Miller says: "We had expected that, with devolution, Holyrood politicians would be at least as forceful as the old Scottish Office in pressing for policies which were in Scotland's interests. "Now, in terms of energy policy, or lack of it, we see Holyrood slavishly copying Whitehall and even attempting to outdo it in setting ever more excessive targets for costly and ineffective renewable energy, mainly wind farms."

Miller has carried out a study into the cost of delivering wind farm energy. Electricity from wind farms is more expensive for several reasons, he says. Firms which supply electricity to homes must pay a premium to wind farm developers. There is also the estimated £500m cost of linking wind farms to the national grid and the cost of keeping power stations on standby in case wind farms fail to produce enough electricity. Miller estimates that this would send the cost of wind farm electricity to 11.3p per kilowatt hour, which corresponds to a 40% increase in generation costs. He concludes: "The total increase in annual costs to Scottish consumers would reach the startling figure of £250m to £300m in 2010, or £55 per head of population. It is difficult to think of a surer way of damaging what is left of the Scottish manufacturing industry." Miller said his study was based on figures from the Royal Academy of Engineers and that senior people in the energy industry backed him up. But the renewables industry pointed to studies by the UK government and Ofgem which put the increase in costs at a comparatively small £12.80 a year, or 3.5p a day.
www.windfair.net Online Editorial
Trevor Sievert, Online Editorial Journalist
UK, ScottishPower, wind turbine, wind energy, wind power, wind farm, rotor blade, onshore, offshore

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