September 9, 2015
The great Sleat rip off
For some reason, the National Grid – the system for distributing electricity around the country – is run by two companies that are also two of the largest generators and suppliers of electricity. Putting aside for a moment any concerns about the obvious conflicts of interest inherent in this arrangement, their approach to working with communities leaves a lot to be desired. We’ve all experienced the admin charges that routinely get slapped onto the simplest of transactions. A community on Skye have been left gob smacked by the rip-off tactics of Scottish and Southern Electricity.
Sleat Community Trust is asking for your help in our attempt to overturn a frankly outrageous issue that has arisen for our wee community group with Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE).
After five years of effort our community were at an advanced stage of developing a wind energy project in the north of Sleat. It was recommended to us that we should, as a next step in 2011, book a grid connection with the district network operator SSE.
We did this and they charged us £8800 (inc VAT) for the pleasure. Money we could ill afford.
Connection was promised within a year for a 900kW turbine. No physical works were carried out by SSE but a desktop design study was carried out along with the supply of reams of contract papers.
However within a matter of months feedback started to come out from SSE that the grid through Skye was constrained (full) with many waiting megawatts of booked capacity queued for future connection. The best date that could be given for the earliest grid connection for our project was 2021! This to allow the very expensive interconnector to the Western Isles to be constructed to de-load the Skye line along with upgrading works all the way to the Beauly Denny line.
Initially SCT and its subsidiary trading board, Sleat Renewables Ltd who were managing the project, decided to wait. However the recent reduction in government support for renewables made the boards relook at this project and decide that it was unlikely that it was now commercially viable.
We then sought a refund from SSE for our grid connection payment and were shocked to find that they intended to keep £6600 (inc VAT) for the “work” they carried out.
Now we did expect a small administration charge to be deducted from our initial sum, possibly a few hundred pounds, but this charge is outrageous. Even worse we are not a large developer but a small charity. SSE are justifying these costs as part of their Assessment & Design fees none of which were explained to us at the time. They refuse to show any leniency to our request for a more reasonable refund.
Last week SSE supplied us with a cheque for £2258 (inc VAT) as their final settlement which we are adamant that we will not accept or bank.
Please support us by sharing this widely as we try to make them change their minds!