Monday, December 08, 2008

National Grid Connection.

Sometimes, Government policy is almost beyond understanding. I thought that when the Assembly Government published its 'planning guidance' on renewable energy (TAN8) a few years back. We now discover that it was even worse than I thought at the time.

TAN 8 created 3 separate Strategic Research Areas (SSAs) in and bordering Montgomeryshire, within the boundaries of which it was envisaged several wind farms would be built. You really would have thought that the Government would have considered how the power created was to be transported to the National Grid - to coincide with an anticipated construction timetable. Well you'd be wrong.

Powys County Council are currently considering nine applications to build wind farms - all at least 50 kilometers away from the National Grid, the nearest point of which is in Shropshire. Only now has the National Grid informed us what they propose to do to access these sites. I'll quote from the newly released document.

'.....National Grid, SP Manweb and the wind farm developers, along with the support of Ofgem and the Welsh Assembly Government are working cooperatively to understand better the grid connections and associated grid infrastructure that will be the case of Mid Wales we will need to invest in new infrastructure to connect to our existing infrastructure.'

In other words, they have to build a 400 kv line (that's the biggest line of all, which hangs on 150' steel pylons) from somewhere in Shropshire to somewhere in West Montgomeryshire. Not many people in East Montgomeryshire have any idea what's going to happen to them.

This is the proposed timetable of this construction.

Before Aug 09 ................... Assess appropriate connection point to the transmission system.

Aug 09 - April 11.................Public Consultation and Environmental Impact Assessment.

Mid 2011..............................Electricity Act (section 37) Application.

Early 2012...........................Application Determination.

May 2012 - Oct 2015............Construction.

October 2015........................Completion.

That's right. Completion of the line to take the power out of Mid Wales to be completed in 7 years time. While nine proposals are already on the table. Now common sense would dictate that these proposals are put on hold until the line is built. But No. Because of the way the Electricity Act is written, Scottish Power are statutorily obliged to build 132 kv lines now to service these sites. You don't need a degree in Electricity Line Construction to see the stupidity of all this. But that's Government for you.


Anonymous said...

Out of interest Glyn, have you discussed all this with the Montgomeryshire AM? And if so, how on earth does he defend this madness?

Glyn Davies said...

Anon - Mick Bates has always been enthusiastic about wind farms. I respect his willingness to stand up and be counted for what he believes - which is more than you can say for some others who say one thing to one audience and the opposite t0 another.

Anonymous said...

Mick Bates might be enthusiastic about wind farms but these are his personal views, isn't it his job to represent the people of Montgomeryshire, isn't it about time they had their say in this matter!

Glyn Davies said...

anon - Probably better if Mick answers for himself. Anyway, I'm not at all sure that a majority of Montgomeryshire people would be against wind farms - unless they have knowledge of the pylons implications as well. I suppose Mick would also say that he was voted in by the people of Montgomeryshire at an election, which gives him the right to speak on their behalf.

Anonymous said...

Hi Glyn,

Thank you for your update on the grid line, as someone involved in the industry I can confirm that your timeline is accurate. However, I don't think that the most sensible option would be to wait until the grid line is built before consents for the wind farms are granted. The two processes must work in parallel. If you consider that it will take around a 6 months for a developer of a consented wind farm to discharge planning conditions, and a year to award the construction contracts. It could also take as much as two years to receive delivery of the turbines once the contracts have been agreed, then they must be erected and commissioned. We are all aware of the urgent need for renewables, so there is really no sense not to run these two processes concurrently, unless we want to ensure that delays occur.

Jacob Hain, npower renewables

Anonymous said...

Glyn I think it's about time that this business of pylons is made very public, I have been to several of this wind farms presentations, and when ever the question of getting this vast amount of electricity (that they claim they're going to generate) to the national grid, the developers' answers have always been the same,'Nothing to do with us'. I think it's time the people of Montgomeryshire woke up to the fact that they may live miles from a wind farm, but will have pylons right next to their properties, and not receive a penny unlike the landowners who make an obscene amount from the turbines that aren't as hideous as the pypons! It'll be too late for them to start protesting when the beautiful views they now enjoy have gone for ever,the value of their properties plummet or even worse become unsaleable, and even far more worrying what about the health risks?

Glyn Davies said...

Jacob - I accept the principle of what you say, but there remain serious uncertainties. For example, the National Grid timetable may not be met. There is going to be one hell of a row about where the 400 kv line is to go. That could take years to sort out.
Even by your own timetables, it looks more sensible to delay wind farm permissions until the line is approved. The timetable for bringing a wind farm to fruition is about as long as it will take to constuct the line.

Whenever I discuss this issue, I try to accept that the Asembly Government has taken the decision (albeit one that I disagree with), and I'm not looking for strategems to frustrate the process - just trying to minimise the damage to landscapes that the various pylons will cause.

Anon - You make a good point. Whenever people are asked about whether they support onshore winf farms, it should be whether they support wind farms and the pylons.

I try not to make much of the health risks, because I do not have the appropriate knowledge. But I do know that Scottish Power do not like to constuct a 132 kv line closer than about 60 metres from residential property.