Following the news that Government energy regulator Ofgem is minded to reject a proposal to build a 600MW subsea cable across the Minch to the Western Isles and instead favours a 450MW cable due to costs, Highlands and Islands MSP Rhoda Grant said the move was “totally shortsighted”.
The proposal to reduce the cable’s capacity has been made by Ofgem due to its view that investment for a 600MV interconnector is excessive, but it would support a revised proposal if costs were cut.
Energy consumers across the country pay for the cost of investment for any new capacity through their energy bills and Ofgem ensures that it obtains the best deal possible for them.
Estimates are a 600MW link would cost around £663m, while a 450MW link would cost £617m.
However, with the combined proposals for the Eishken and Stornoway windfarm schemes eating up an estimated 369MW in capacity and a 48MW development planned at North Tolsta a 450MW interconnector would quickly fill up, with little space left for other energy creation schemes in the Isles.
The Labour MSP said: “Ofgem is only taking into account development by multi-nationals and is having no regard whatsoever for the large number of community schemes that could be developed and would provide a greater boost to the local economy.
“Neither does it take into account wave and tidal energy and the waters to the west of the islands which are the most energetic in Europe.
“What will happen is that either these developments will never come to fruition or customers will be forced to pay double to capitalise from them.
“Given the way Ofgem makes these decisions, it’s apparent that it is totally unsuitable for the Western Isles.”
Ofgem will make a final decision this summer on the business case for the Western Isles.