REVOLT opposing unnecessary, excessive and intrusive powerline development

opposing unnecessary, excessive
and intrusive powerline development

REVOLT Newsletter 308

Revolt news 308 27/09/2010 Print (pdf) Version

1. News307 carried a guide to sources and links for key UK strategy documents. Here is another to add. ENSGR 2009-22 “Demonstrating the need for electricity infrastructure” of June 2009 can be found on the ENSG site or by google. It slightly pre-dates the final full report ENSGR 2009-026 of July 2009 but the work overlaps. Report 22 includes general strategic discussion and two case studies: north (and mid) Wales; and Hinkley Point C.

2. ENSGR 2009-22 makes a case for “de-synchronisation” of applications, especially for generation and powerlines. Reasons include time for consent processes and time for construction. ENSG would like infrastructure in place (or at least consented) before it is needed, rather than bogged down with its long time scales. On the one hand there are logistic reasons in favour, but also there are risks of speculative overdevelopment; even so there is some merit in de-synchronisation. However, this should not lead to “pre-determination” where consent for one project strongly prejudices the consideration of another. Also, it should not lead to “fragmentation”, where a large strategic project is consented in parts without considering the full impact as a whole.

3. Potential examples of both pre-determination and fragmentation are the major substations proposed for Lincolnshire (Triton Knoll, aka Mumby) and for Mid-Wales (MIWW). The former is being prejudiced by consultation over just the offshore wind substation without, it seems, presenting the full strategic plans which involve an additional adjacent 400kV transmission substation with potentially three double-circuit 400kV overhead lines. The latter may be prejudiced by consultation over a relatively small 132kV onshore wind substation without, it seems, presenting the full strategic plans which involve not only a 400kV transmission substation and overhead lines linking the north and mid Wales networks but also a possible DC converter site and cables for offshore wind. In each case, the combined impact of the full strategic alternatives should be transparently presented to both public and decision makers. That is required by at least the spirit and potentially the letter of the EU Environmental Impact Directive 97/11/EC.

4. “Project TransmiT is Ofgem’s independent review of the charging arrangements for gas  and electricity transmission networks, and the connection arrangements that DECC has explicitly left for Ofgem and the industry to resolve” – from Ofgem web site www.ofgem.gov.uk. Something of a row has been going on over variable charges, which reflect transmission costs according to location, versus flat rate charges, where all generators pay the same regardless of transmission costs. Alex Salmond has demanded a flat rate, in effect an extra subsidy for remote generation. The present arrangement has differential rates, with even a negative cost to generators locating in London. That properly reflects the fact that such location would reduce overall transmission costs (and losses) by relieving longer-distance flows. An article in the Guardian 22-9-10 seems to have its figures wildly wrong in examples of such costs, perhaps saying per kWh instead of per MWh!

5. Stour Valley Underground (SVU), the umbrella group opposing National Grid’s Bramford-Twinstead 400kV line in Suffolk and Essex, is a year old. This month’s key points in its newsletter of 27-9-10 are at APPENDIX A.

6. Following my submission through CPRE (news307.2) my MP, William Hague, sent a generic reply. Coming from the Foreign Secretary, it may be indicative of coalition government policy. It’s not good news for burying power lines. It’s about “our joint ambitions for a low carbon and eco-friendly economy”, saying “In a time of financial prudence, overhead power cables have already proven to be the most cost-effective and robust way of delivering that energy”.

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APPENDIX A Key points from SVU newsletter 27-9-10

Key points this month.

  • National Grid say they aim to announce a "Preferred Corridor" in October 2010
  • Campaigners oppose any such announcement before all of the questions raised by the groups and councils have been answered
  • Developers of the vast new wind farm off the east coast announce that the connection to Bramford will be UNDERGROUND
  • The future connection of new wind farms raises the possibility of yet more pylon lines according to Suffolk County Council and others.
  • EDF Energy confirm that if National Grid choose corridor 2, they will hand over their 132kV line for the purpose
  • An underground cabling technology exists that can cost less over its lifetime than lines on pylons according to a report produced for Wraxall & Failand Parish Council in Somerset. Called Gas Insulated Lines or GIL, it is produced by energy technology giant Siemens in Germany
  • Campaigners respond to the Government's consultation on the energy regulatory body OFGEM to ensure that environmentally beneficial transmission technologies are given due consideration and that "public willingness to pay" and "environmental impact costing" figure when thinking about developing the transmission grid
  • Suffolk County Council also respond to the OFGEM consultation with a powerful and well argued document
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Statements made by the editor or by other parties and quoted for information do not necessarily represent the views of Revolt. Criticism of government and industry, and grievances from members of the public, are in the nature of Revolt's work, though we try to give credit where it is due. Revolt is strictly non-party-political and regrets any offence which may be inadvertently caused.

 

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