Is this the start of a trend in the UK wind energy industry?
In August last year RES piloted its Local Electricity Discount Scheme (LEDS) at Bryn Llywelyn in Carmarthenshire, offering properties close to its proposed wind farm an annual £225 discount (index linked) on their electricity bills. Since then RES has offered LEDS at two other Welsh projects as part of a UK-wide roll out, with the company committing to providing a discount to residential, business and community properties of at least £100pa – with no requirement to change electricity supplier to take part in the scheme.
In November last year, Good Energy launched its ‘local tariff‘ of electricity for residents near to its onshore wind farm at Delabole, Cornwall. This tariff equates to a reported reduction of between £100-£150 from the annual electricity bill.
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see the benefits of this to the wind developer, or to the local residents. Residents get to see substantial financial benefits from supporting (or at least not opposing) a local windfarm. Local councillors can stand up and point at another benefit – beyond the ones typically mentioned on blogs such as this one – which they are delivering to their local communities.
So why hasn’t this been considered before – and what’s stopping the roll-out to all wind developers?
Well – for companies involved in the green sector – I can understand there being some uneasiness about subsidising electricity use, at a time when we’re all being told to use less of it. But I simply don’t think that those people lucky enough to live in an area with schemes such as this will go mad and turn on all their appliances; I think that they’ll view it as a bonus which wouldn’t have arisen without the wind farm being located near their house.
I also understand that there are some complexities regarding the process of subtracting the annual discount from bills, particularly with multiple energy suppliers; but RES has clearly done the trick with this scheme, in a way which Good Energy cleverly dodged (in their scheme you have to agree to use them as electricity suppliers).
It’s still early days yet for this sort of approach, and we need hard data on the take-up and the reaction from local residents. But my hunch is that a lot of wind developers around the UK will be watching and learning from these schemes; perhaps we’re not far off the time when a local windfarm increases the value of your property?
The press release from RES about LEDS follows:
RES INTRODUCES THIRD LOCAL ELECTRICITY DISCOUNT SCHEME IN WALES
– More than 1,200 properties in Wales now set to benefit from discounted electricity bills –
Leading UK wind farm developer RES has launched its third Local Electricity Discount Scheme (LEDS) in Wales. Almost 500 local businesses, community buildings and private homes near the site of RES’ proposed wind farm on Garreg Lwyd Hill in Radnorshire have this week become eligible for an annual discount off their electricity bills if the wind farm goes ahead.
The launch of LEDS at Garreg Lwyd Wind Farm follows the successful trial of the discount scheme at Bryn Llywelyn Wind Farm in Carmarthenshire last year, and its extension to Mynydd Marchywel Wind Farm in Neath Port Talbot in January. It brings the total number of properties in Wales that are eligible to receive the discount to more than 1,200. At all three proposed wind farm sites LEDS is being offered alongside Community Benefit Funds, as part of community benefit packages that will be delivered for the full life time of the wind farms if they are approved and built.
Rachel Ruffle, RES’ UK Development Director, said: “LEDS is an exciting new form of community benefit which seeks to deliver direct and tangible benefits to people living and working closest to our proposed wind farms in the form of a discount to their electricity bills. Feedback from consultation with communities near both existing and potential development sites has highlighted that people felt cheaper electricity was the most practical benefit RES could offer.
“Following a positive response from communities and stakeholders last year, we are now looking to implement LEDS at all new RES sites that are submitted into the planning system during 2013.”
RES has written directly to all properties that are eligible to receive the electricity discount under LEDS, offering people the opportunity to register their interest in the schemes. There is no need for participants to change electricity supplier to benefit from LEDS and participation in the scheme is entirely voluntary. The discount is paid directly to the relevant electricity supplier for the duration of the operational life of the wind farm.
Richard Evans, RES’ Head of Development in Wales, explains: “The discount, which is index linked, will be paid for the full operational life of the wind farms – around 25 years. If someone moves out of an eligible property during that time, then the annual discount will become available to the new electricity bill payer for that property.
“I’m delighted that LEDS is now being introduced at Garreg Lwyd, bringing more than 1,200 properties into the scheme across Wales. We are committed to building on the success of our LEDS initiative in Wales at all of our new sites in the UK.”
The planning application for Garreg Lwyd Wind Farm is due to be considered by Powys County Council’s planning committee later this year. If it goes ahead, Garreg Lwyd Hill Wind Farm will be capable of generating sufficient renewable electricity to meet the average annual needs of around 30,000 homes.Last updated: September 20, 2013 at 15:05 pm