Salmond demands action on ‘disgraceful discrimination’ of electricity grid charges

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By G.A.Ponsonby

First Minister Alex Salmond has attacked the delay in addressing what he described as the “disgraceful piece of discrimination” that sees Scottish based energy producers penalised through unfair charges to connect to the UK grid.

Mr Salmond was responding to questions from nationalist MSP Aileen McLeod and LibDem MSP Liam McArthur who both expressed concerns over unfair connection charges.

By G.A.Ponsonby

First Minister Alex Salmond has attacked the delay in addressing what he described as the “disgraceful piece of discrimination” that sees Scottish based energy producers penalised through unfair charges to connect to the UK grid.

Mr Salmond was responding to questions from nationalist MSP Aileen McLeod and LibDem MSP Liam McArthur who both expressed concerns over unfair connection charges.

Connection grid charges were highlighted this week after a report by Scottish Renewables revealed that Scottish based firms were subsidising their southern based counterparts to the tune of tens of millions of pounds.

The report showed that firms in the north of Scotland face charges in excess of £56m to connect to the national grid whereas those in England actually received an £11m subsidy.  The charges have been attacked by leading industry experts who claim that the system threatens the Scottish renewable industry.

Responding to the questions the First Minister expressed his disappointment in the length of time Ofgem were taking over the matter and urged the energy watchdog to give some indication as soon as possible.  Mr Salmond insisted that the matter needed to be resolved soon if business opportunities were not to be jeopardised.

He went on to say that UK Energy Secretary Chris Huhne was in broad agreement with the Scottish government’s position and also highlighted the vote taken in the Scottish parliament that was unopposed, although he expressed puzzlement as to why Labour joined the Tories and refused to back a proposal that would “mobilise the great resources of Scotland”.

Mr Salmond responded to LibDem Mr McArthur’s point regarding the ‘log jam’ that was causing the delay by arguing that such a log jam was unnecessary given, he said, that Ofgem had promised to make their announcements this autumn.

Calling the charging system a “massive disparity the First Minister continued:

“We believe we have the support of the United Kingdom Secretary for Energy and Climate Change.  We’re still confident we’re going to get a resolution to this long standing and quite disgraceful piece of discrimination.”

Mr Salmond insisted that a speedy decision was critical for investment reasons and added:

“Why it is so important is that the decisions, and investment decisions cannot wait for Ofgem to have another six months of talk when we need action and we believed we had a principled agreement that action would be taken.”

The First Minister attacks unfair grid charges: