A delegation from the Stornoway Trust and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s Joint Venture initiative travelled to London last week to meet with energy regulator, OFGEM.
The meeting gave both organisations an opportunity to discuss the needs case for a 600MW interconnector for the Western Isles. This follows on from discussions, facilitated by the Comhairle in Stornoway last month, and involving the Stornoway Trust, as well as community and commercial developers.
Commenting after the meeting, Stornoway Trust Chairman, Norman A MacIver said: “We were grateful to OFGEM for agreeing to meet with us and provide the opportunity to make the case for a 600MW connection.
“As community landlord, the Trust sees the regulator’s decision as pivotal to the future development of renewables in the Stornoway Estate, and across the Isles.”
Chair of the Trust’s Renewables Group, Calum MacLean added: “We believe it is our duty to provide the insight that will assist OFGEM to come to the right decision.
“While they have the widest interest of the UK consumer at heart, it’s up to us to help them see that provision of a 600MW cable is no detriment to that interest – and, in fact, to opt for anything less would, in our view, be short-sighted and potentially far more costly in the long-term.
“Our knowledge of the community here tells us that even a 600MW connection will very quickly be at full capacity, with a number of projects just waiting for the infrastructure that will help them realise their potential.”
Iain M MacIver, Factor of the Stornoway Trust Estate said: ‘Our aim was to stress the importance of a 600MW link.
“OFGEM, while minded to consent a 450MW connection, requires further assurances that a larger capacity cable will be more appropriate.I hope that we were able to persuade them that, behind our anchor project – of which they are already aware - lies a list of proposals, focussed on adding to already consented schemes.
“Our aim is now to further engage with SHET to satisfy ourselves that our islands’ renewable generation potential is fully reflected in their submission to the regulator. As our grid provider, we believe that the robustness of their case will be a critical factor in helping us to achieve the outcome we require.”
The meeting was also attended by Calum Iain MacIver, Director of Communities at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.
Mr MacIver said: “OFGEM were able to update us on additional Business Case analysis and consideration they are giving to new and innovative approaches to protecting the GB consumer.
“I left the meeting confident that OFGEM are treating the new evidence being presented by the Comhairle, the Stornoway Trust and other stakeholders very seriously.
“They were left in no doubt that a 600MW inter-connector is critical for Outer Hebrides and that our expectation was for them to deliver on that.”
OFGEM’s response to the needs case is open until May 31st, with a decision expected in the summer.