Local Services   I Cars  I   Stuff 4 Sale   I   Jobs   I                             

Comhairle plans cheaper electricity for islanders   14/5/13

Western Isles Council is advancing plans to sell electricity to islanders at a cheaper price than the giant energy providers.

Renewable energy generated from local community turbines may be sold to islanders under the proposal.

If it goes ahead the Outer Hebrides Energy Supply Company would be established to offer a discounted tariff to island householders and businesses.

The local authority commissioned GreenspaceLive, a spin-off research company from the UHI university, to examine if the idea is viable.

Western Isles Council leader Angus Campbell said: “It would a cheaper tariff and benefit all householders and businesses.

“That’s the aim of it. There is no point doing it if you can’t get cheaper electricity.”

Mr Campbell stressed that a number of legal matters have to be resolved first.

The rules over the retail of electricity and use of the grid network to carry out the council’s plan are extremely complex and the council would develop a business case before it gives any green light to invest in the initiative.

Building and running its own large scale turbines is not on the cards but the authority hopes to buy into the planned large Stornoway windfarm along with the community-owned estate Stornoway Trust.

Up to 20% of the 36 huge generators which have received planning permission to be built on flat moorland on Lewis are available for a local ownership project.

Lewis Wind Power has provisionally offered the Stornoway Trust the opportunity to buy 20% of the generation from the Stornoway Wind Farm. At present, this equates to about 25MW installed capacity. Any deal will be between Lewis Wind Power and Stornoway Trust. .

As a partner to Stornoway Trust, the Comhairle has commissioned a study into the feasibility of an Outer Hebrides Energy Supply Company which could facilitate this purchase and act as an electricity generation and supply company, retailing electricity from the 20% share to the local population.

Overall, the development, on the outskirts of Stornoway, will generate 130 megawatts electricity - enough to power 60,000 homes.