Hadyard Hill company pockets £6.5m in constraint payments

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An energy company which is hoping to build 31 turbines on the Hadyard Hill site has taken in over £6.5 million in constraint payments over the last four years.

Scottish and Southern Energy is set to hold public exhibitions in Barr, Dailly and Crosshill at the beginning of next month to allow locals to discuss the plans for the windfarm extension which is one of the largest in the Carrick area.

Constraint payments are paid to windfarm operators when the National Grid can’t accomodate the energy the turbines are producing.

And since April 1 2011, when SSE first reecived constraint payments in relation to the Hadyard Hill site they have pocketed a whopping £6,553,467 including £716,593 so far in 2015 alone.

John Constable, director of the Renewable Energy Foundation, who supplied the data said: “Constraint payments to onshore wind power in Scotland are little short of a scandal.

“The prices charged are too high, and the industry seems unwilling to mend their behaviour.

“Indeed, on the contrary, when they have a wind farm that is earning rich rewards from constraint payments they seem determined to extend that wind farm and cash in still further.

“Consumers are getting a very raw deal, and neither government nor the regulator is lifting a finger to protect them.”

The Gazette first reported on Hadyard Hill’s constraint payements last month when SSE earned £495,144 during the first two weeks of the year.

Payments on single days in January topped £80,000 on four separate occasions whilst February 15 saw SSE paid £52,263 and on February 18 they were paid £57,901.

However, Michael Rieley of Scottish Power Renewables points out that constraint payments made to windfarm operators are only part of the overall picture.

He said: “Constraint payments are not a new phenomenon or one restricted only to windfarms.

“They are a normal part of the overall efficient management of our electricity system, given the limitations of the UK’s aging energy infrastructure.

“National Grid pays a variety of technologies to reduce or increase output as required to help balance the system, and the constraint costs of windfarms account for only a small proportion of the overall payments.

“Overall, delivering a modern electricity network capable of getting power generated to customers must be a priority over the coming years. However, in some cases constraints will be cheaper than further investment in the transmission network - the cost of which would be passed on to the consumer.”

At the start of 2015, other windfarm operators in the Carrick area were also the recipients of contraint payments.

Scottish Power renewables were paid £306,131 in constraint payments from the Arecleoch wind farm near Barrhill as well as £67,929 in payments from the nearby Markhill wind farm which they also operate.

On the first two days of 2015, the company were paid £56,684 and £82,230 respectively as a result of the National Grid being unable to accommodate the energy being produced by the 60 turbine wind farm near the village.