SNP MEP in Transmission Charging Effort

07 September 2009
SNP Member of the European Parliament Alyn Smith has today called for the European Commission to take the UK government to the European Court of Justice over the long-running issue of transmission charging and discrimination against renewable energy developments in Scotland.

OFGEM, the UK organisation which regulates the gas and electricity networks, operates a pricing structure that ensures electricity generators seeking to connect to the grid pay increased charges the further away from "the market" they are. This leads to electricity generators in Scotland paying considerably higher charges than others further south.

Smith is of the view that this constitutes discrimination against renewable energy development in Scotland, and has previously called for the European Commission to take action against the UK government on the issue, though the legal powers of the Commission were previously unclear.

The MEP was instrumental in amending the recently approved Renewables Directive which makes clear, for the first time, that discrimination, by whatever mechanism, against the renewables sector is illegal. He has this week lodged a Parliamentary Question obliging the Commission to state on the record what action it proposes to take on transmission charging.

Smith has the backing of the entire renewables sector, and has identified the charging regime as one of the biggest hindrances to the development of the renewables sector in Scotland.

Smith said:

"It is just bizarre that Scotland, which should be Europe's green powerhouse, is being held back by the pricing regime operated from London by an organisation that clearly does not have the promotion of renewables as an objective.

"The SNP government has made great progress in kicking on Scotland's green energy revolution, but the cost of accessing the grid remains one of the biggest obstacles, and an obstacle the Scottish government currently has no power over.

"I think we can fix it from the European end. With the new Renewables Directive now in place I hope that the Commission will be able to find some teeth and fix this once and for all.

"I'm glad that it was my amendment to the Renewables Directive as it was passing through my committee which now forms the basis of the appeal we are today making to the Commission. Where there was previously uncertainty over the legal powers, the Commission now has teeth, and I want to see them used to force OFGEM, and the UK government, to reverse this policy."