DTI Opens the Grid to Scottish Renewables

A new electricity market, announced by Energy Minister Mike O’Brien, should bring together Scotland’s transmission networks with the grid in England and Wales to push prices down for Scottish consumers and open up lucrative new markets for Scottish generators.

The British Electricity Trading and Transmission Arrangements (BETTA) will create a single wholesale electricity market in Great Britain, and should promote competition to bring a number of important benefits to Scottish consumers and generators. Announcing the 1 April ‘go-live’ date for the new arrangements, O’Brien also outlined plans to limit the charges renewable generators on the Scottish Islands, and potentially in the far North of the Scottish mainland, will have to pay to the National Grid to transmit electricity to customers across Britain. Speaking at a meeting with Ofgem and the companies involved in the project at Scottish Power’s Glasgow control centre, O’Brien said, “Scottish generators are set to benefit from the new single transmission system because, for the first time, they’ll have real access to the wider British market, without the added complexity of negotiating and paying for the use of the existing interconnector between the two networks. And we’re putting in place additional measures to ensure that those in certain remote, rural parts of North Scotland are not hit by disproportionate energy prices.” The British Wind Energy Association (BWEA) welcomed the cap transmission charges payable by electricity generators in the Western and Northern Isles of Scotland saying BETTA will release hundreds of renewable energy MW from the wind and from the waves and tidal energy. And this will also make it easier for Scottish power suppliers to access the entire British market to help the UK meet its Renewables Obligation goal of getting 10 percent of electricity from renewables by 2010. “The northernmost Scottish islands are among the most attractive locations in the UK for wind power, and R and D into wave energy is also already being progressed off Orkney. By 2010, 1,300 MW of electricity could be feeding into the grid from the islands, enough to power three quarters of a million households, more than Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen combined,” O’Brien said. The legislation underpinning BETTA was delivered in the Energy Act 2004, and the National Grid company, which currently operates the transmission network in England and Wales, will become the System Operator for the whole Great Britain network. The Common Tariff Obligation (CTO), which was set by the Electricity Act of 1989 and will finally come into force in April 2005, will ensure that suppliers in the North of Scotland cannot charge domestic customers in the area different prices simply on the basis of their location. This should protect domestic customers in remote parts of Northern Scotland from being charged very high prices for their electricity.

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