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Friday, September 22, 2023

McArthur Backs Community Renewables Exemption to Energy Prices Bill

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Orkney’s MSP, Liam McArthur has backed calls to exempt community-owned wind turbines from the proposed cap on revenues made by low-carbon generators under the UK Government’s Energy Prices Bill.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament earlier today, Mr McArthur highlighted the concerns of Community Energy Scotland who warned the proposed ‘Cost-Plus Revenue Limit’ risked “inadvertently and unnecessarily hurting local communities” by curbing revenues that are invested in supporting community-based projects in Orkney and across Scotland.

Orkney’s MSP illustrated the “unintended consequences” of the regulations by using the example of Hoy Energy Ltd which remits all net profits from a 900kw wind turbine to the Island of Hoy Development Trust.

In turn this funding is reinvested back into the local community through supporting a bus service, welfare officer and community centre as well as offering grants for other important community projects and activities.

With fuel poverty in Orkney at the highest level anywhere in Scotland, there are even plans to use future funds to support the installation of low emission heating systems in properties on the island.

Mr McArthur argued including community-owned projects such as these “doesn’t serve any useful public purpose whatsoever” and secured a commitment from the Minister to make appropriate representations on the issue, if possible. 

Commenting, Mr McArthur said:

“Whatever the rationale for capping the profits of older renewable developments, it is highly unlikely the intention was to undermine community-owned wind, solar and hydro projects.

“These tend to be charitable operations that invest any and all funds in projects delivering genuine community benefit.

“Unfortunately, in the understandable haste to bring forward measures in response to the cost of energy crisis, there is a risk that this Bill could lead to unintended and very damaging consequences for community-based projects.

“By applying this cap across the board, it also likely that communities will be unable to ‘repower’ turbines and safeguard revenues into the future.

“We cannot afford to take a one-size-fits-all approach to the application of this cap and UK Ministers must agree to exempt community-based schemes.

“Hoy Energy Ltd provides just one example at a local level of what could be put at risk if an exemption is not granted.

“I welcome the Minister’s agreement to take up this issue with his officials and thereafter with UK counterparts.

“As Community Energy Scotland point out, the solution is simple but there needs to be a political will.”

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