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January 12, 2011

Worth the effort

While compensation payments from privately owned windfarms aren’t to be sniffed at, the really serious money lies with community ownership. But getting there can be a long and tortuous journey with many hurdles in the way of a successful outcome. Particularly in some of the more remote parts of the country, securing a connection to the grid can be the final showstopper.  Great news recently for eight communities in the Western Isles

Press and Journal

Eight community groups have overcome the last major hurdle with their wind and hydro power projects in the Western Isles.

Despite ongoing problems with the proposed new interconnector to the Western Isles, the groups have secured firm connection offers from Scottish Hydro.

Some will be able to connect next year with the others no later than 2013.

The six community wind schemes are Urras Oigh-reachd Ghabhsainn, Horshader Community Development, Tolsta Community Development, Point and Sandwick Power, Sealladh na Beinne Moire and Barra and Vatersay Community Ltd.

They include a total of 11 turbines, with Point and Sandwick, and Sealladh na Beinne Moire both having three turbines each.

There are also two community hydro schemes granted connections: North Harris Trust and West Harris Crofting Trust.

All the schemes will redirect the income generated back into the local area to improve the lives of their communities. Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution (SHEDP), National Grid and Ofgem have worked together to enable these groups to connect through a “Connect and Manage” Scheme.

Community Energy Scotland (CES), which has been working alongside these groups since their inception, is delighted that these groups are now one step closer to their end goal.

Nicholas Gubbins, chief executive of CES, said: “Having assisted these voluntary groups for several years, we have been massively impressed with their dedication and tenacity in overcoming numerous obstacles.

“It seemed likely that the connection issue could be the final straw but we presented a strong case to SHEPD, The National Grid and the regulator Ofgem that they could be granted connections. We’re delighted that this has been accepted.”