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Got a wind farm nearby? Could you save on your energy bills?

Paper windmills made out of currency in note form

Would you back local wind farms if they gave you discount on your energy bills? Good Energy’s founder Juliet Davenport explains why the company is trying to ensure that local customers share in their success.

We recently announced that we’d be launching the UK’s first dedicated local electricity tariff early next year. Households situated close to our Delabole wind farm in Cornwall are set to save more than £100 a year with 20% off our standard electricity tariff. And if the wind turbines perform better than expected, then there will be an additional discount of up to £50.

The scheme will be available to around 300 existing and new customers who live within two kilometres of the wind farm. We also plan to develop a range of new renewable energy sites over the next four years, and we will offer this tariff to residents near to any wind farm we build over a 4MW in size.

Rewards for local communities

For us, the rationale for launching a local tariff is quite simple – we think it’s only right that those communities playing a role in supporting the kind of projects that can help deliver better energy security and lower our carbon emissions should be recognised for doing so.

I think that wind power has a huge role to play in meeting the UK’s future energy needs, and it’s only right that local communities should be recognised for their contribution to tackling climate change and reducing the UK’s reliance on expensive imported fossil fuels.

The question is, would you be happy for a new wind farm to be built near you if you could directly draw from its energy and enjoy a discount on your bills?

Which? Conversation provides guest spots to external contributors. This is from Juliet Davenport, Good Energy’s CEO and founder. All opinions expressed here are Juliet’s own, not necessarily those of Which?.

acglos says:
1 December 2012

Definitely not.

Gordon says:
5 March 2014

Like some of the other posts I feel this is a ‘bribe’ to the local communities to accept the negative impact these turbines will have on their commumities i.e house prices lowered, noise and the effect it has on our wild landscape. All for a few jobs in the construction phase and even fewer when they are built. The bulk of the investment (ie most of the parts are built overseas) and profits going overseas.

I live in Scotland and communities are being set against each other, the haves receiving money from the wind farm developers and the have nots who have to pay for it through higher bills and it is, in the main the poor subsiding the rich ‘again’

I’d back a local windfarm anyway, if someone had established it would usefully produce electricity. But really this is a straw man: offshore wind is generally much more effective, and we’re able to build bigger turbines.

Compared to the blots on the landscape we already endure – M3 Newbury extension is a good example – wind power is positively attractive.

Billy says:
1 December 2012

This smells a mite like a bribe to me. So far, it would seem that wind power is expensive to implement and is woefully unreliable and inefficient. Manufacturing the things leaves a hell of a carbon debt. So NO. There are better ways. When the problem of providing nuclear fusion plants is finally cracked – and it will be probably within 30 years or fewer- that will be the perfect solution. In the meantime I feel that properly designed and applied nuclear fission stations are probably the best bet, although I’m not that happy about them, either.

4 December 2012

Quote:-” I feel that properly designed and applied nuclear fission stations are probably the best bet, although I’m not that happy about them, either”.

Good post Billy!

If looks like a Bribe, Feels like a bribe, then it is a Bribe!

The cost of this bribe will passed on to others in their Quarterly Electric Bills, as for sure the Power companies won’t absorb the cost!

53 years ago I was recruited by Harwell to help perform nuclear fusion research. Since then I have been committed to investigate the energy supply for the UK and my subsequent family. I am now deeply disturbed by the current electricity supply situation.
Last week I downloaded the records of the National Grid’s energy usage since 2011 from http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/. I have analysed the contribution of wind towards their peak demand of 46GW. I attach a graph that clearly shows the reason for my current concern.
The National Grid managed to get just 2GW from an installed wind capacity of 5.3GW. I then produced a graph of the wind energy production for the first 24 days of November. The output peaked at 4.5GW on the 8th then dropped to less than 0.5GW on the 10th!
Now ‘they’ are planning to add another 20GW of wind capacity by 2020. Simply scaling current performance to what might happen by 2020 we might expect the contribution of highly expensive energy to jump between 2.4GW and 8.4GW! How I would love to put that graph on the table in front of Ed Davey at his next Kingston & Surbiton surgery and ask him where he plans getting that missing 7.4GW from.
I am convinced that the current situation is the result of the secret symposium that was held by the BBC in January 2006 to justify them ignoring their Charter requirement for balanced viewpoints. They have since censored news that might denigrate any windies, greenies or even MPs that might question intermittent renewable sources. This means that there have been no informative documentaries on the radio or the BBC TV and there is extensive ignorance of the facts.

I would love you to draw the attention of Ed Davey to these facts and ask his views of as to why wind turbines might be supportable. It is my private view that the only possible current solution has to be new shale gas feeding new CCGT power stations. Eventually we might have thorium reactors and fusion but I have done as much as I can.

I would not back wind turbines under any circumstances. They are inefficient, expensive to build and the electricity they produce will be expensive to the consumer. They spoil the countryside which in Scotland is one of our major natural attractions. I am not talking about a couple of turbines, Whitelee Wind Farm (Just 20 minutes from central Glasgow) is the second largest wind farm in Europe with 140 wind turbines which only generates enough to power 180,000 homes, How many will it therefore take to supply the UKs clean energy target? There are 70km of trails road trails to allow access to them for maintenance operated by Scottish Power Renewables, which is part of the Spanish company Iberdrola. So they are not even UK owned, although UK energy payers contribute to their building and development. Their life time is approx 25years and they cannot product electricity if the wind is too light (less than 12MPH) or too fast (more than 30MPH) but the suppliers will still be paid whether they produce or not.
Every time I pass Whitelee wind farm at lest 25% of the turbines are not turning and sometimes the greater majority are not turning. So that makes the output unreliable which apart from causing the domestic consumer problems will not encourage any major energy using industry to come to Scotland.

Yes its ne again
Just read the Clyde Wind Farm of 152-turbine project by Scottish and Southern Energy capable of powering 200,000 homes. These are in South Lanarkshire basically whatever way you want to approch Glasgow you will see wind turbines as the wind farm turbines will be built on either side of the M74 motorway , More usless inefficient wind mills to spoil the view.

Unless they are in reliable high wind speed areas (offshore generally) I believe wind farms are a waste of money – there are better ways of meeting energy requirements. Wind farms are politically motivated and subsidised, so not good economics. Why therefore support them? They are also a blot on the landscape – another reason to terminate their growth. As for a discount for locals, since we nationally fund them we should not further subsidise a particular group. I doubt most locals would vote for their presence in spoiling their landscape – is it worth £100 a year to concede? Concentrate on sensible energy sources, not green fads.

I am a landowner in Mid Wales. When my 50kW wind turbine arrives I will be laughing all the way to the bank because I’m going to be given £30,000 a year of your money! How do you feel about that? It’s a pity that my neighbour’s homes will be devalued by a very substantial amount and perhaps rendered unsaleable, but I’d do anything for that amount of money, wouldn’t you? It’s a no-brainer!

Well don’t worry, I would never inflict ruin on my neighbours, but there are plenty who are doing just that.

I cannot begin to describe to you the gut-rotting anxiety felt by rural dwellers on this issue. Even though my neighbours and I are not yet directly threatened we are only too well aware of what might happen to us should a wind ‘farm’ be placed within a few miles of our homes.

This really is not a matter of merely ‘spoiling the view’. We know very well what has happened to other home owners who have been afflicted by these developments, (Deeping St Nicholas in Lincolnshire, Ringmer in Sussex, Fullabrook in Devon, to name but a few).

Homes are being devalued in a major way, despite the denials of wind energy developers, and in some cases have been rendered pretty well unsaleable. Meanwhile many homeowners are being tortured by noise from turbines up to three miles distant, and their homes are being ruined because of it.

To make matters even worse, it seems that no-one in power cares or even realises what they are doing to us. Rural dwellers are being ignored and subjected to the most dreadful injustices. We are being expected to pay for wind power with our quality of life and large proportions of our life savings through devaluation of our homes, with no prospect of any realistic compensation.

It would be nice to think that Juliet Davenport would, not only read all these comments, but would also pass them on to her co-directors and shareholders. Maybe then our disgust with the stupid policy of making us squander our money on uncontrollable renewables might be passed on to Ed Davey, Nick Clegg and Cameron and all those who have been subjected to this scam – with the connivance of the BBC and their Chatham House Secret brain-washing symposium in January 2006. This has caused most of the media to denigrate all those who pont out some simple scientific fact and call us contrarians and deniers and prevent us publishing. If you want to learn more then Google 28gate.

I am grateful to Which? for giving us a sheltered platform but not many are listening.

Yes, quite happy to support wind power, especially if I can benefit from its output.

Maybe a discount could be the way of getting round the NIMBY attitude of many people who want power but don’t want any form of power generation anywhere near where they live.

NIMBY implies you don’t want something. A discount implies those “don’t wants” can be bought of with money. I don’t want HS2 near me – but then I don’t agree with the economics or philosophy of it either. It would spoil a substantial part of our pleasant countryside – money cannot compensate for that. Wind farms would also spoil our countryside – let alone the false economy on which they are proposed. Nor is the countryside the NIMBYs to sell – it belongs to all of us, and to our future generations.
NIMBYs have every right to protect their environment, whether from wind farms, building, airports or whatever and to suggest they might have a price is a sad reflection on our society.

I completely agree about HS2, Malcolm. The problem with energy is that we all need it, the population is rising, and many individuals and organisations are extremely wasteful. Unless forced by price rises, I see little opportunity for cutting demand.

My solution is to address waste of power (and other resources) and to do something about population growth.

Obviously off-shore wind power could do a lot to save the countryside. Whatever solution is adopted, it’s going to upset many people for one of many reasons. That is why I am so keen on my solution.

Gareth says:
3 December 2012

Wind energy has been much maligned by comments on this article with exaggerations and downright lies. They are a very efficient form of energy generation. For every unit of fossil fuel energy used in their manufacture you get 30 units back out over their lifetime. No other form of power generation gets even close.
They are not very good at giving “firm” capacity so we do still need power stations, but wind turbines are very good at reducing the amount of fuel you have to burn in that power station. Wind energy is an essential part of our energy mix.
We need to catch up with the Chinese and the Texans who are installing turbines at a rate of knots.

Wavechange – I agree totally that whatever we do about energy supply, we should concentrate much more on energy conservation – whether it is insulation, CFLs, controlling commercial lighting, installing fuel efficient boilers etc. If we use less energy – or if the increase in demand is less rapid – it reduces the pressure on new generation.What are the economics of tidal energy? There seems a huge amount of power potentially available that is totally reliable, unlike wind. Can you not store the tidal head behing a barrage and drive turbines when it is released? Or is the head too small? Problem for the shipping and boating fraternity perhaps?

Yes, there is a lot we agree about Malcolm.

Our venture into wind power has been handled appallingly, just like the phase-out of old fashioned light bulbs. We certainly need to use a combination of renewable power sources to compensate for the intermittent nature of wind (and solar) power. I have no idea how practical it is to store tidal power, never mind the impact on shipping.

Rest assured that I don’t want the countryside covered in wind farms. I could live without mobile phone masts too, but that battle seems to have been lost.

Don’t any of you read the details of what you propose or denigrate. Please, please go and download a free copy of David MacKay’s book as a free PDF from http://www.withouthotair.com/download.html.
He may be a Fellow of the Royal Society but it is put in a straight-forward way and is very readable.
The big problem with wind farms as a major source of electricity is that to contribute to the demands of the grid they have to be backed up with upto 70 percent of their nameplate power with other rapid response sources which are not being built at the moment. Undoubtedly those sources will add to our carbon emissions. What is more, without natural shale gas (fracking) we will be very vulnerable to the gas price rises and will lack national security of supply. What we have to do is monitor shale gas drilling and ensure the well builders avoid leakage – especially that major methane leakage when they first open the well. This can only be ensured by requiring that the gas pipe-lines to the nearest gas turbine are built before the well is allowed to open.

Future generations will need the oil shale to produce, plastics, pharmaceuticals and the chemicals we take for granted when our profligate world has used up reserves of oil and coal. Think about the future. We need to make more use of renewable resources and wind power is only one option.

Interesting to see the comments about tidal power, which is of course totally predictable and far more reliable than wind.

Three or four years ago I saw on the television a working undersea turbine; the developer was tearing his hair out because lack of interest in his product. Although there are now devices existing almost no-one seems to know about them, and over many years I have met only two people who realised that you don’t need barrages to generate electricity. Why the lack of interest?

Re compensation via reduction in electricity bills. It might work in some places but I’m afraid that won’t impress those who stand to have huge amounts wiped off the value of their homes. It’s already happened in many places. And if protecting your home against those who would ruin it is being a Nimby then I’m proud to be one.

Richard, some people come to appreciate it. Look at the French who accepted a reduction in their local taxes if they allowed the building of a local nuclear reactor. Now they are thankful.

Again Richard, I am at a loss to understand what happens at a barage when there is no head difference on either side – such as low tide and high tide perhaps. Please spell it out for me.

And wavechange, I am sure if you check up on your chemistry you might find that high temperature processing of hydrogen and carbon in some form with fission or fusion energy you might form some hydrocarbons. Read it up and let us know the details.

I’m a chemist by training, lobro, and don’t see your suggestion as very useful.

Richard, there is a flow of water into the barage reservoir as the tide rises, and out from it as the tide falls, whose energy could be harnessed by suitable turbines. The flow rate can be controlled but there will of course be times when the flow is low or zero.

sorry wavechange. maybe we can’t wait for cheap fission or fusion but surely you chemists can think of something to do with all that offshore electricity. Maybe an arc or furnace can do something with a feedstock of electrolysed water giving hydrogen and oxygen hydrogen together with sequester-bound CO2. If its possible to get some oil or gas or plastic that way it might be the only thing that wind farms are good for!

If I had to, I would rely on microorganisms to produce some of the products we need, but coal and oil are much better starting materials. Oil shale would be useful too, especially if we have used all the readily accessible coal and oil.

Using surplus electricity to produce hydrogen and oxygen by electrolysis is certain an effective way storing power derived from electricity. It was mentioned in a book on solar power that I was given as a prize, when I was at school in the 1960s.

I am glad that you have recognised that wind power may be useful. Feel free to continue. 🙂

4 December 2012

The ‘Discount’ will just be added to the rest of those that don’t have a ‘Wind Turbine’ next to them, as for sure they will make sure the shareholders do not lose out!