West Wales News Review — analysis with a sustainability slant

Wind Scheme to Foist Drawbacks on Community, Push Profits towards Private Investors

Wind power might be beneficial in the abstract but there are huge gaps between claimed ‘community benefit’ and actual ‘community benefit’.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), one of the successors to the Financial Services Authority, is making community action harder by refusing to register new co-operatives which aim to generate electricity.

The FCA claims that co-operatives must sell to their members, but this is not possible in the case of electricity because it enters the National Grid.

As the campaigning organisation 38 Degrees says: (https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/creation-of-new-renewable-energy-co-ops-blocked-by-fca)

“Since the Spring 2014 a significant number of new Co-operative Societies (previously often known as members co-ops) have been refused registration. This is because the FCA has unilaterally decided that renewable energy co-ops in England, Wales and Scotland are not legitimate co-operatives as they do not directly trade with their members.”

A members’ co-op is a good way to ensure that the benefits of renewable energy are fairly shared between members, but the FCA’s resistance means that commercial companies now have the renewable energy industry much more to themselves.

Last night in Capel Newydd, Llandeilo, a lovely building but not ideal for an information evening which required people to circulate freely, representatives of Seren Energy Ltd were on hand to answer questions about the 74 metre, 500kW wind turbine they want to erect between Salem and Taliaris, north of Llandeilo (see ‘Wind’s Corrosive Power: Turbine Plan for Salem Generates Disharmony’ on this site.

‘What is the community benefit?’ I asked. The answer was an initial £15,000 when the scheme receives permission, and £2,000 a year for the 20-year ‘guaranteed’ life of the scheme. That seems trifling to me, given that the turbine will probably generate more than 1,500 MW hours a year and receive more than £270,000 annually in the government’s feed-in tariffs.

The Manordeilo and Salem Community Council, which would be a logical recipient of the income, voted unanimously on July 10th to object to the application.

The argument, I think, is not so much about electricity – our lives would be very difficult without it – but about the distribution of costs and benefits from generating it. At present the benefits go to the landowner who, by chance, has a desirable site, and to the company undertaking the scheme.

If the FCA would allow co-operative community energy schemes, the advantages as well as the drawbacks would flow to all members. At present, communities are lumbered with the drawbacks.



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