A wind farm has been paid £1.2 million not to produce electricity for eight-and-a-half hours.
By Edward Malnick and Robert Mendick
9:00PM BST 17 Sep 2011
The amount is ten times greater than the wind farm’s owners would have received had they actually generated any electricity.
The disclosure exposes the bizarre workings of Britain’s electricity supply, prompting calls last night for an official investigation into the payments system.
The £1.2 million will go to a Norwegian company which owns 60 turbines in the Scottish Borders.
The National Grid asked the company, Fred Olsen Renewables, to shut down its Crystal Rig II wind farm last Saturday for a little over eight hours amid fears the electricity network would become overloaded.
The problem was caused by high winds buffeting the country in the wake of Hurricane Katia.
In total, 11 wind farms were closed down last week, receiving a total of £2.6 million. The money – detailed in calculations provided by National Grid – will be added on to household bills and paid for by consumers.
As Britain pushes for more and more wind farms, critics claim the size of the ‘constraint payments’ will grow accordingly – raising serious concern about the long-term suitability of wind power to meet Britain’s energy needs.
Crystal Rig received by far the largest single payment because the National Grid runs an auction, inviting energy companies to say how much they want in compensation for switching off.
Crystal Rig’s owners asked for £999 per megawatt hour of energy they would have produced had they been switched on. Incredibly, the figure Crystal Rig had bid was accepted by the National Grid.
The June 14 article about Maui County’s powerful letter to the Public Utilities Commission – and the county’s decision to intervene in Hawaiian Electric Co.’s request to be reimbursed by ratepayers to the tune of $4 million – contained a number of inaccuracies.
The article identifies two organizations that were denied intervention by the PUC: Life of the Land and Lanaians for Sensible Growth. That is incorrect. The two parties denied intervener status were Friends of Lana’i and Life of the Land.
The article states that the Big Wind project will likely have an enormous impact on Lanai and possibly Molokai. True enough, but one look at the state’s project maps (www.hirep-wind.com/documents/EISPN_PROJECT_AREA_22NOV2010.pdf) confirms for all Maui residents that the state plans to run a cable to/from Maui as well. And First Wind Hawaii, the developer that was unsuccessful in its attempt to develop a wind power plant on Molokai, stated in an April 26 Pacific Business News article that it has now turned its sights to Maui, suggesting that “Maui be included in the interisland cable project.”
The June 14 article’s comments about the deal struck between Castle & Cooke and Pattern Energy also requires clarification
The acronym IAM represents “I Aloha Molokai,” a newly formed working group comprised of Molokai residents opposed to the proposal to develop a 200 megawatt industrial scale wind power plant to serve the energy needs of Oahu. IAM’s mission is to share information, as well as educate the general public to the potential impacts of the project. This is a grassroots effort to raise awareness and provide balance as the developer and proponents of the project move forward in their attempt to persuade the island community to support the project.
IAM is fortunate and pleased to announce that on June 2 at 6 p.m. at the Kulana `Oiwi Halau, Robin Kaye from Friends of Lanai (FOL) will be sharing the “Lanai Wind Fall Out” video and their experience with the Big Wind and undersea cable project. IAM invites the public to join us to talk story and learn how others are proactively engaged in mitigating efforts to challenge the Big Wind and Undersea Cable project.
Numerous testimonies, letters printed in the local paper and a recent voting survey reveal major concerns and opposition to the proposed project. IAM stands firm on the position that the cultural, social, economic and environmental impacts far outweigh the benefits and opportunities of the project. “NO DEAL” is worth sacrificing our integrity and island for.
Castle & Cooke said it has transfered a portion of its wind development authority to a mainland company that is proposing to build a large-scale wind energy project on Molokai.
The agreement would allow Pattern Energy Group to develop up to 200 megawatts of wind power on Molokai in tandem with 200 megawatts Castle & Cooke is proposing for Lanai. Under the plan wind energy from both projects would be transmitted to Oahu via an undersea cable.
Castle & Cooke initially received approval to develop a full 400 megawatts of wind power on Lanai alone. The agreement was later amended to split the 400 megawatts evenly between Lanai and Molokai. Under that deal Castle & Cooke was to develop 200 megawatts on Lanai with Boston-based First Wind LLC pursuing 200 megawatts on Molokai.
However, First Wind was unable to reach an agreement with landowner Molokai Ranch to buy or lease land for its project. First Wind also missed a deadline set by the Public Utilities Commission to advance its proposal. That opened the door for San Francisco-based Pattern to pursue the Molokai part of the so-called “Big Wind” project.
Pattern said it has been identified by Molokai Ranch as the preferred developer should the project move forward. The project has met with community opposition on Molokai.
Sempra Generation has signed a 20-year contract to sell wind energy to Maui Electric Co. from Sempra’s 21-megawatt Auwahi Wind project on the Ulupalakua Ranch in the southeastern region of Maui.
Sempra said it expects to begin construction on Auwahi Wind in early 2012, creating about 150 local construction jobs at peak and about five positions to operate the facility. The project is currently undergoing an environmental review by Maui County, and state and federal agencies.
When fully operational in late 2012, Auwahi Wind will be capable of generating enough energy to power 10,000 typical Maui homes, the company said.
The project will have a battery storage unit could store as much as 12 megawatt-hours of wind energy generated by the project’s wind turbines. The stored power will help to smooth the fluctuations normally associated with wind power.
The contract between Maui Electric Company and Sempra Generation is subject to approval by the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission.
Maui already has 51 megawatts of generating capacity from the Kaheawa I and Kaheawa II wind projects developed by First Wind LLC on a ridge above Maalaea.
LANAI CITY – Lanai residents turned out Saturday to express strong opposition to bringing “big wind” to their island for the benefit of Oahu consumers.
Testifiers expressed concern about how a proposed wind farm by Castle & Cooke could impact the environment, cultural sites, hunting access and scenic views if it were allowed to proceed on up to 12,800 acres on the northwestern end of the island. While state and federal officials said their purpose was to gather comments on a big-picture plan for an interisland wind system, without focusing on any one specific project, Lanai residents said it was impossible to comment on the impacts of the larger plan without scrutinizing Castle & Cooke’s proposal.
“I’m very troubled by this whole concept,” said Lanai City resident Robin Kaye. “How can you have this cumulative study without looking at the specific impacts?”
The U.S. Department of Energy and the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism hosted the scoping meeting Saturday in the Lanai High and Elementary School cafeteria.
It followed similar meetings on Maui and Molokai earlier in the week.