18.01.2013 - Community Benefit payments (unfairly) called in to question

New correspondent Mr Richard Whitcomb of Mountpleasant Road, Rothesay, joins the fray this week with an inaccurate assessment in his letter to The Buteman of just how our promised Community Benefit payments would work.

We have stated that we will pay £10,000/mW installed capacity/year OR 20% net profit - whichever is the greater - for twenty years if the planning application 12/02202/PP currently under consideration by Argyll & Bute Council is granted consent. Twenty years is the common lifetime of Feed in Tariff contracts, although the turbines would be expected to have a slightly longer lifespan.

Clearly, early on in the lifetime of the project ('early' in this case being about the first seven years) - when a very significant loan is being repaid - there will in fact not be any profits, so that £10,000/mW installed capacity/year is coming directly from us, an equation we can factor in by taking a long view.

Depending on the turbine models chosen (Enercon E48 or Enercon E44) the amount will be either £24,000 or £27,000 per year not the £20,000 Mr Whitcomb alludes to.

Later, as the ca.£3 million loan for capital expenditure is repaid, profitability builds and a payment of 20% of net profits will be greater than the £/capacity payment. This payment will vary with wind conditions and the speed of the loan write-down but should be of the order - in latter years - of around £120,000/year. Quite an attractive sum and one that we hope our community partners Towards Zero Carbon Bute could make good use of to target employment on Bute through green initiatives.

Of course, we would welcome greater community involvement in the project (as discussed with Bute Councillors on several occasions) and investment in the project would lead to greater returns for Bute. Invest in half (or a portion up to half) of the capital expenditure and receive half (or a proportion) of the ongoing revenue...

©The Buteman

Community investment in wind projects has worked successfully at Neilston near Glasgow, and elsewhere, and could work equally well on Bute. Neilston built more/larger 2.5mW turbines and stands to make north of £10 million over twenty years. This money will be used to significantly revamp the town as part of a ten year strategic vision.

Our 150 acre farm at Ascog cannot accomodate such large machines, or so many of them, but a 49.9% community stake costing £1.75 million could be expected to realise a healthy gain on that investment over 20 years - assuming Feed in Tariffs exist broadly as now, we get planning consent and the wind doesn't stop blowing!

Wind turbines can co-exist perfectly well with other social and economic activities, tourism included. Anyone who has ever visited Mount Stuart on a sunny day will have seen dozens on the Ayrshire coast opposite 'the big house' and it doesn't stop people visiting.

Support clean, green, wind energy development at Ascog Farm.