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  By a Newsnet reporter
 
A leading SNP politician is preparing to take on the UK’s energy watchdog in a bid to strike a better deal for Scotland’s fast-growing green energy industry.
 
MEP Alyn Smith is putting together a case for legal action against Ofgem to challenge what he says is an “obscenely unfair” system which is crippling Scottish renewable energy generators to the tune of £100 million a year.

Mr Smith is angry about the huge costs inflicted on Scottish based renewable energy generation companies who are penalised to the tune of hundreds of millions in order to send their electricity to consumers via power lines.

Under the current system, Scotland has about nine per cent of the UK’s population and generates some 12 per cent of its electricity.  However it has to shell out a crippling 40 per cent of the so-called transmission charges – while companies in the south of England are actually PAID money to shift their electricity to end users.

Mr Smith (pictured), who is Scotland’s representative on the European Parliament’s Energy Committee, last night hit out at the arrangement, and said:

“We are in the ridiculous position where companies in the north of Scotland, where much of our green energy is generated, pay more than £20 a kilowatt to get their electricity into the National Grid.

“At the same time, companies in Cornwall are actually paid nearly £6 a kilowatt to transmit their power.

“This obscenely unfair system is taking about £100 million a year out of the Scottish energy market and as a result is presenting a major hurdle to our renewable energy sector.”

This week a report by Scottish Renewables highlighted the disparity in charges that sees companies in Cornwall receiving millions of pounds in subsidies in order to supply renewable electricity to the grid but generators in Orkney having to pay over £100 million to supply the same renewable power.

Mr Smith is now asking Scottish renewables companies and rural and island communities to join with him in considering a legal challenge to the current regime.

He wants the European Commission to move against UK electricity regulator Ofgem – a move which could potentially see the watchdog end up in the European Court of Justice.

Speaking at a renewables conference in Inverness yesterday, the SNP MEP said:

“Scotland has been given a glittering prize by nature – the ability to produce clean, green and reliable home energy.

“Following Scotland’s oil and gas bonanza, we should now be winning the power lottery for the second time with renewable energy from sources such as wind, wave and tidal power.

“But – just as with oil and gas – we’re being denied real access to our own assets. This has to change, and I’m working to make sure it does.”

Comments  

 
# UpSpake 2012-09-20 06:45
Laudable Mr. Smith but this is a job for the Scots Government if in fact they are that ie a Government ?.
The SNP - majority administration must give up this practice of asking/requesting or demanding that something is done. They are there to pass laws and be proactive otherwise they are a waste of time.
If the Scots Government wished they could 'nationalise' the grid tomorrow with emergency legislation. All it takes is to face the UK government down.
Now would that be a bunch of fun ?.
 
 
# Briggs 2012-09-20 07:03
I'm afraid the whole tenor of your post just isn't how business gets done.

Nationalise the power grid in Scotland? what would that achieve in the export of energy to the rest of the UK.

These things are arranged by mutual agreement and perhaps action taken through European courts with restraint of trade arguments.

What do you suggest the SG should do, send a gunboat up the Thames?
They are doing it the correct manner.
 
 
# Cruachan 2012-09-20 07:56
The SNP strategy is to reveal the gross unfairness of Scotland's position in the UK, which this situation certainly demonstrates.

Even if it was simply a case of asserting another situation north of the border, it would not serve the SNP agenda well given the approach of the independence referendum.

Better to play on the failures of union now and reap the benefits of independence later.

Patience is the key.
 
 
# Saltire Groppenslosh 2012-09-20 07:00
Yet again UpSpake, a wee attack on our Scottish Government.
We aren't independent yet.
The logic of this action is well founded,

And, if you don't mind me asking, how will any Scottish Legislation stop the charges for sending power to the grid. It's just deducted at source.

If you're going to come out with nonsense like that, it might be better not to bother.
 
 
# Clydebuilt 2012-09-20 20:56
Quoting Saltire Groppenslosh:
Yet again UpSpake, a wee attack on our Scottish Government.
.


Aye and it's the first comment.

I've noticed that anti Scottish Government comments being the first after an article is a common occurence.
 
 
# Breeks 2012-09-20 07:17
(Comment edited - NNS Mod)

What is particularly spiteful about this injustice is that it hits Scotland developing renewable technology when it's just getting going.
 
 
# CharlieObrien 2012-09-20 07:23
Nationalise the grid is to important to be left in private hands,so to is the Hydro system,which we already owned before that mob stole it,so we should take it back with no compensation.
 
 
# Jim Johnston 2012-09-20 07:25
As this is a cost imposed on the energy companies, why don't they cover this cost by charging for delivery ?. You cannot send a letter to Australia from Scotland for the same price as one sent to Aberdeen, No ?

Post Independence I expect generating companies will do that anyway, since they can charge bulk customers whatever they want. Electricity is a product like any other. They can also offer discount to any customer they like. No one can force a company to sell to them, anymore than customers can be forced to buy from them. Scotland has its own network bought and paid for, which should be nationalised, likewise rUK, likewise Europe.

Perhaps Ofgem should try to look a bit past the end of their nose. Once the nuclear generators have priced themselves out of the market, as the French are doing right now, the rUK can "just" generte their own power anyway the want. Good luck to the rUK.
 
 
# 357ms 2012-09-20 07:49
"Scotland has about nine per cent of the UK’s population and generates some 12 per cent of its electricity. However it has to shell out a crippling 40 per cent of the so-called transmission charges"

False.

Generators only pay 27% of the total transmission charge bill.

Consumers pay 73%. Scottish consumers pay lower transmission charges than any other consumers in the UK.

So go on Smith, go to court and fall flat on your face in public.
 
 
# DonaldMhor 2012-09-20 17:01
Quoting 357ms:
"Scotland has about nine per cent of the UK’s population and generates some 12 per cent of its electricity. However it has to shell out a crippling 40 per cent of the so-called transmission charges"

False.

Generators only pay 27% of the total transmission charge bill.

Consumers pay 73%. Scottish consumers pay lower transmission charges than any other consumers in the UK.

So go on Smith, go to court and fall flat on your face in public.




SOURCE?
 
 
# alasdairmac 2012-09-20 08:37
There is probably nothing the SG could do unilaterally as, as soon as the transmission lines crossed the border into Englandshire, the UK Government could slap on any level of transmission charge it wanted, even a penal one for us daring to do our own thing.

Best route is via the courts using legislation which prevents trade-restrictive tariffs and as that applies between EU member states it will work for us post-independence too.
 
 
# Fungus 2012-09-20 09:33
Quote:
There is probably nothing the SG could do unilaterally as, as soon as the transmission lines crossed the border into Englandshire, the UK Government could slap on any level of transmission charge it wanted, even a penal one for us daring to do our own thing.


So if they don't want to buy our electricity we don't sell it to them. Once the North Sea interconnector is built we cn sell it to Europe instead.
 
 
# Mad Jock McMad 2012-09-20 09:00
A bit of logic says if it is the UK 'National Grid' it is Westminster's sole authority, an authority which Westminster opted out of by creating a quango - OFGEM - to run and regulate.

I would suggest the generating companies have already tried to 'negotiate' with OFGEM over their pricing structure and as we know OFGEM has declared itself 'happy' with the present charging structure. It does not take a raging conspiracy theorist to see Westminster's hand behind the OFGEM decision in spite of OFGEM cries of the opposite.

Having followed all the 'proper channels' and with OFGEM turning down the SG's polite request for a level playing field there is now only an appeal to the EU Competition commissioner which is what Mr Smith is doing.

The fly in the ointment may well be the EU Commissioner rejecting the application on the grounds OFGEM is a pan UK body, an issue between regions and the UK Government which it has no power to ajducate over. Then again if Mr Smith has the likes of Scottish Power, EDF and other EU multinationals behind him Westminster and its quango could well be in for an embarrassing time.

For folks who wanted the referendum at the rush it is clear the SNP ploy of taking their time is to allow boils like transmission charges to come to a point and burst. Just like the issue of who runs and sets the conditions of the 2014 Referendum now has.

Harris, Greaterix, Davidson et al represent not so much the glorious charge of the No Brigade as the huffing and puffing of imperial might prior to the humiliating surrender of Singapore.

PS - on the issue of 'nationalisation of the Scottish power grid' The SG will take control of the grid in Scotland lock stock and barrel and its version of OFGEM will be able to negotiate with generators on an internal Scotland pricing structure. Taking out the surcharge we currently pay for the reliance on gas and nuclear generation in England, as well as the transmission costs, could well see Scottish electricity charges drop significantly to the benefit of the people and Scottish business. The wee socialist in me would like Scotland to take back ownership of power generation on the 'two finger' basis but the pragmatist says why take on the infrastructure hassle and costs of generating plants when profit is a good motivator to multinationals and within its limited powers the SG is already encouraging innovation in the sector.
 
 
# scottish_skier 2012-09-20 09:08
O/T, but I heard on the radio that the United Nations are planning to open an office in Scotland.

Aye. Getting the groundwork done.
 
 
# scottish_skier 2012-09-20 10:16
Here we go:

bbc.co.uk/.../...

UN House Scotland to open in Edinburgh

A new centre which aims to become the voice of the United Nations in Scotland is set to open in Edinburgh.
 
 
# cirsium 2012-09-20 10:50
very interesting development scottish_skier.

It looks as if Ban Ki Moon has followed through in his proposal that Scotland should take a bigger role in the UN
robedwards.com/.../...
 
 
# proudscot 2012-09-20 15:08
Quoting scottish_skier:
Here we go:

bbc.co.uk/.../...

UN House Scotland to open in Edinburgh

A new centre which aims to become the voice of the United Nations in Scotland is set to open in Edinburgh.


Positive news indeed, SS. However, I wonder how long they'll remain here, after the countless letters and phone calls of complaint, not to mention visits, they'll be subjected to from our one man revolutionary Upspake. He'll be demanding UN support for everything from a declaration of Scottish UDI to UN peacekeeping troops stationed on the border. Mind you, come to think of it ...
 
 
# george davie 2012-09-20 19:47
Quoting scottish_skier:
Here we go:

bbc.co.uk/.../...

UN House Scotland to open in Edinburgh

A new centre which aims to become the voice of the United Nations in Scotland is set to open in Edinburgh.


Hi Scottish Skier

Just clicked on to the link you provided.

Without thinking I quickly checked the "tabs" at the top of the page - just to make sure it wasn't the spoof "BBC Scotlandshire" site.

OT Hope the Independence march goes well.
 
 
# Leswil 2012-09-20 09:21
I agree with UpSpake on this issue.
S/G seem to go a lot of condemning but actually do not create enough waves.

They actually need to challenge the issues such as this head on,as it is Scotland's future that suffers.

With very unfair charges, this and other issues like it, are in my view an attempt to constrain Scottish enterprise.

It is the duty of S/G to challenge and confront issues like this at all levels. otherwise Scotland itself will be hurt as companies get fed up and bale out. So jobs will be lost, which makes this a familiar ploy of our overlords.

Not due to anything that Scots have done, but what Westminster is at the back of, in order to keep us down, as always.

However if Scotland says no in 2014, just watch things change, as they dearly want the revenue that can be generated.
 
 
# Kinghob 2012-09-20 13:17
Scottish consumers do NOT pay less than the rest of the uk for any type of energy- Scottish consumers pay the highest prices for fuel like diesel and petrol in Europe, which is why we need to control our mineral wealth instead of it being a cash cow for Westminster financial mismanagement.

The person who thinks Scottish consumers are not ripped off by the national grid charges is completely wrong and needs to look up some statistics instead of pretending that we are doing magic within the union where experts we dont vote for like cameron and osbourne know their stuff which would be the biggest lie of all.
 
 
# 357ms 2012-09-20 19:10
Quoting Kinghob:
Scottish consumers do NOT pay less than the rest of the uk for any type of energy...

The person who thinks Scottish consumers are not ripped off by the national grid charges is completely wrong and needs to look up some statistics


Actually if you bother to look up some "statistics" you will find that any Scottish customer of supplier X pays the same electrical energy charge as any other customer of X (on the same energy tariff) anywhere in the UK.

They will also pay the same charges for metering, environment and so on.

The Scottish consumer pays a lower transmission charge, but this only amounts to 1-2% of the total bill.

However, the Scottish consumer will pay a higher distribution charge. This relates to the low- and medium-voltage connections between the customer and the National Grid; lower population density means more km of wire per customer.

Nothing at all to do with National Grid, these charges are levied by Scottish Power Distribution and Scottish Hydro Distribution.

So if you want to target the real cause why final Scottish bills are higher, have a go at those two.

Funny how the SNP doesn't do that.
 
 
# dtr 2012-09-20 13:58
" # 357ms 2012-09-20 08:49
"Scotland has about nine per cent of the UK’s population and generates some 12 per cent of its electricity. However it has to shell out a crippling 40 per cent of the so-called transmission charges"

False.

Generators only pay 27% of the total transmission charge bill.

Consumers pay 73%. Scottish consumers pay lower transmission charges than any other consumers in the UK.

So go on Smith, go to court and fall flat on your face in public.
"

I get my electricity from EDF who I can assure you have not established a "Scottish only" tariff so how can "Scottish consumers pay lower transmission charges than any other consumers in the UK."??

hmm?
 
 
# 357ms 2012-09-20 14:34
Quoting dtr:
I get my electricity from EDF who I can assure you have not established a "Scottish only" tariff so how can "Scottish consumers pay lower transmission charges than any other consumers in the UK."??

hmm?


Er, I can assure you that EDF and every other supplier has a slightly different set of overall tariffs for consumers in each of the transmission and distribution zones in the UK. If you actually look at your bill in detail, you should be able to find the breakdown between energy, distribution , transmission, metering, environmental and all the rest.

Why not look it up sometime?
 
 
# Breeks 2012-09-20 15:17
Well we know how biased the BBC is when it comes to reporting 'advantage Scotland'- but even the BBC quoted
" Mr Stuart expressed concern that developments on Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles still face huge charges, with a wind farm on the Western Isles paying £77,000 for every megawatt of capacity in 2012 under the reforms, compared to a charge of £2,000 per MW in south west England".

Hmm?

bbc.co.uk/.../...
 
 
# Wansanshoo 2012-09-20 15:07
Friends of The Earth :

"Our overriding concern remains that that the Review should result in a transmission
charging system which fairly recognises the fundamental differences between sustainable
renewable forms of generation whose location is determined, or at least heavily influenced
by the location of the resource (notably wind, wave and tidal) and forms of generation
reliant on widely traded commodities, and thus whose least environmentally damaging
location is significantly determined by their proximity to markets (gas, coal, nuclear). In
light of the analysis in the consultation document, we continue to believe a socialised
system for renewables, with a locational element for thermal generation, should be
devised, although it is clear that is not the intention of the UK Government or any of the
proposals contained in the consultation document.
We acknowledge that the ICPR proposal would benefit onshore renewables in Scotland
over the current regime. However, there are still serious concerns about the costs to
offshore renewables and those generated from the islands. Scottish Renewables has
raised these concerns and noted the substantial consumer benefits a revised regime
could have.5 As a minimum therefore OFGEM must address these concerns."
 
 
# Marga B 2012-09-20 15:39
OT, but just off the press. Things are quite dramatic in Catalonia. Madrid government has today refused to negotiate full fiscal autonomy and the Catalan president is considering calling elections in November, among other things.

Threats from Madrid inside and outside parliament are escalating, but have already been very belligerent, hinting at suspending the autonomy, vetoing an independent Catalonia in the EU, lobbying big Catalan companies on the dangers of independence, with the socialists of course giving full support.

The president was quoted as saying: "From the bottom of my heart, I think a great opportunity to make Spain and Catalonia understand each other has been lost".

See you in 2014?
 
 
# tartanfever 2012-09-20 15:42
How is all this being reported in the media Marga ? Mixed or one sided ?
 
 
# Breeks 2012-09-20 16:11
That's grim reading Marga B, but give it some time perhaps. Some of the very same things are said here too, but the threats are hollow. Catalonia can put 1.5 million people in the street to cry for Independence, and nobody can simply dismiss that.

I'm coming to realise how much Scotland still benefits from principles and points of law which were established over 300 years ago, and sometimes I feel we're extraordinarily lucky to have them.
 
 
# tartanpigsy 2012-09-20 20:13
Fantastic news Marga B,

Viva Catalunya,

Be great to see 2 of the colonial powers brought down to size at the same time.

What was good for the east 20 years ago, should be good for the west now.

Hopefully we can see as radical a change in the map again!!
 
 
# rgweir 2012-09-20 16:24
OT-Just heard John Swiney being interviewon bbc drive,I think it was Vari Somebody doing it,Talk about hostile.
 
 
# scottish_skier 2012-09-20 18:50
She sounded quite Tory-esque, i.e. can we really afford things like educating our children, providing medicines through the NHS and giving OAPs assistance with getting out and about? It was impressively right-wing in tone and the sort of thing Labour come out with these days.

Yes we can afford, but we must sacrifice such things as nuclear weapons, offensive weapons such as aircraft carriers, overseas wars, giving huge sums to bankers to spend on themselves, tax cuts for the super-rich etc.
 
 
# govanite 2012-09-20 16:26
Wee Davidson is not enjoying Michael Moore's testimony on 'separashun'. The Section 30 isny to his liking.

BBC Parliament now.
 
 
# mutterings 2012-09-20 17:31
Quoting Marga B:
Things are quite dramatic in Catalonia. [...]

OT: I created Yes logo and avatar sets in various colour schemes so people of different political background or nationality can show their colours and support for independence.

I created one set with you in mind, Marga - have a look: my.mutterings.co.uk/.../...
 

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