Welcome For EU Moves Against Transmission Charges

30 September 2009
SNP Member of the European Parliament Alyn Smith has today (Wednesday) welcomed news that the European Commission (EC) has sent a letter to the UK government about the UK transmission charges methodology being discriminatory against the development of renewables in the North of 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.

The letter from the European Commission is a direct result of a Parliamentary Question (PQ) lodged by Smith on September 7, calling for the EC to take action against the UK government on the issue.

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. The battle to do away with this discriminatory regime has been long-running and the letter signifies the first big step towards changes.

In the letter, the EC asks the UK government to explain the system and to show it does not discriminate. The letter is not public and it is not clear when the UK government has to send a reply. Only following such an investigation can the Commission determine whether or not infringement proceedings are appropriate.

Speaking from Brussels, Smith said:

"This is excellent news for Scotland and I am delighted to hear that this issue is being tackled head on.

"With the new Renewables Directive in place, the Commission now has muscles to flex and clearly they are not scared to show these off; highlighted by the fact that the EC has gone to the unusual lengths of issuing a letter to the UK government asking them to explain their actions. I hope they are not scared to use their new found power in forcing the UK government to reverse this policy. While this has been along-running saga, there may be light at the end of the tunnel.

"I am confident the Commission can fix this problem once and for all, so the often talked of broad "energy potential" becomes a reality."