Two energy companies will pay a record fine of £ 158million after delays to a major submarine power cable carrying renewable energy from Scotland to England and Wales led to an increase in household energy bills.
National Grid and Scottish Power agreed to pay the fine after an investigation by the industry regulator found that many Scottish wind farms were being paid to shut down on windy days because there was no means of transmitting clean electricity to areas of high energy demand in southern Britain.
The £ 1.2bn power cable known as the Western Link was to carry enough electricity to power houses measuring 2m for 260 miles, mostly underwater, from Scotland to the England from the end of 2015, well before the end of 2017 deadline set by the regulator.
But the project was delayed and was not ready until more than three years later, in the summer of 2019, to help the UK make better use of its renewable energy production.
During the delay, the cost of shutting down wind farms and operating alternative energy sources such as gas and coal-fired power plants was ultimately borne by households through their energy bills.
Cathryn Scott, director of Ofgem, the energy regulator, said projects such as the Western Link cable were “essential in moving clean energy from where it is produced to where it is.” necessary “.
“However, they have to be delivered on time and according to agreed standards. Where they are not, as an energy regulator, we will hold the licensees accountable, ”she said.
Ofgem said £ 15million of the total ‘repair’ payment would go to the regulator’s repair fund, which is used by the Energy Saving Trust to distribute money to charities and other organizations that help energy consumers. The remainder of the £ 158million payment will be used to reduce the cost of running the energy system, which is paid through energy bills.
A spokesperson for the joint venture between National Grid and Scottish Power said it had “worked hard to protect consumers from delays” but “recognizes that it is ultimately responsible for the delay and has therefore agreed to the plan. of repair “.