opposing unnecessary, excessive and intrusive powerline development
REVOLT Newsletter 229
Revolt news 26/06/2007
1. Snips from news@all-energy issue 90 and 91 are at APPENDIX A.
2. A report of large salary rises for SSE executives is at APPENDIX B.
3. A contact from the insurance industry would like to know of any cases of damage to powerlines arising from activities, such as fire, on land-holdings crossed by the line. I would be pleased to pass on any information from readers. This raises questions of liability, particularly of landowners with wayleaves or easements and any relevant clauses in those agreements, and possibly in relation to the DTI ESQCR regulations on safety and the implied obligations on landowners.
4. Evidence on underground cables for electricity transmission, presented by Europacables to the Beauly-Denny inquiry, has been submitted to the SAGE website under "contributions". It is first class: short and readable, comprehensive and well referenced, and authoritative and up to date. It gives absolute costs for recent examples as well as cost ratios with overhead lines. It can also be found on the inquiry site http://tinyurl.com/ynreds under precognitions, private estates, Eilean Aigas, underground.
5. Surprisingly, SSE are reported to be offering undergrounding for sensitive parts of the Beauly-Denny line, as reported via news@all- energy 91 (APPENDIX A herewith, item 4.4). The reason for surprise is that Ofgem, which in SAGE has been very hostile to any costs, would not be expected to allow the costs to be passed on to consumers if SSE volunteered to incur them. Has Ofgem changed, or is SSE admitting it can easily afford to underground some sections?
6. Also from news@all-energy 91 (APPENDIX A item 14.1), the vertical- axis wind turbine is in the news with a prize-winning design. Revolt email news promoted this idea several years ago when contacted by a developer in New Zealand, and again in news200.2 of 15.11.05 when contacted by Toby Hall.
7. Hats off to Country Guardian, the voluntary organisation that does so much good work to help local groups concerned about wind farms and to lobby for better public understanding of issues relating to them. Its newsletter Open View #50 of Spring 2007 is a treasure of information (APPENDIX C). For more see http://www.countryguardian.net
8. The stakeholder group SAGE, advising government on precaution for power-frequency EMFs, is in abeyance for some months. The government's response to the First Interim Assessment published by SAGE in April has been to refer it to HPA for advice. Meanwhile, SAGE has run into process difficulties, which had somewhat injured its report, and which remain unresolved and an impediment to progress. A new "process group" met in June and is to meet again in July.
9. A Parliamentary Commission, headed by Dr Howard Stoate MP, is making a parallel review and will urge government to implement a moratorium on new building of powerlines and homes within 60 metres of each other. I responded to an invitation to submit evidence to the Commission, specifically relating to cost-benefit considerations. SAGE's cost- benefit analysis was incomplete, especially with regard to combined implications for property and undergrounding, as report drafting took over from analysis. My further analysis suggests that a potential outcome of a moratorium is that new and existing lines, where they are near housing, could merit burial instead of a "sterilised" corridor along an overhead line. The gain in land for building and in property values could, in areas of medium to high housing density, justify the cost of undergrounding.
10. A key outstanding issue which SAGE failed to address is the position of existing exposures. A moratorium on new development would do nothing directly for existing homes near existing powerlines. However, indirectly as explained in the last item above, a moratorium could lead to some existing lines being buried, thus removing exposures from existing homes. Additionally, together with some SAGE participants, I have been developing the idea of a national cost-limited phased programme of undergrounding existing lines on a priority basis. Indications are that proportionate costs might allow for at least one project per year. Anyone interested in joining email discussion of this idea please let me know.
APPENDIX A Snips from news@all-energy issue 90.
3.GRID 3.1.Connecting the Islands of Scotland Ofgem has a launched a consultation looking at options on connecting the grid system to the Scottish Islands. Closing Date: 20/07/2007 http://tinyurl.com/yrucoc
3.2.Under-sea power link schemes 'should go to tender' The building of sub-sea interconnectors to take electricity from planned green energy developments in the Scottish islands to the mainland could be put out to tender to cut the cost, according to the regulator Ofgem. It has also suggested that under-sea links could be built by power firms, but owned by renewables companies http://tinyurl.com/2off7b
3.3.Subsea energy cable study The case for laying long distance subsea cables from renewable energy projects on Scotland's islands to areas of large population in the south is far from being clear cut under current regulation, according to a key consultants' report http://www.hie.co.uk/
3.4.IEA report on green power integration The International Energy Agency will table a final report to the G8 meeting in Japan next year that will establish "a degree of consensus on the priority issues" to integrate green power into electricity grids http://tinyurl.com/264j92
3.5.Investing in power transmission systems Offshore wind farms will only be a viable power source for consumers if transmission systems are efficient.... That's why German engineering company Siemens has invested millions in better power transmission systems for this market http://tinyurl.com/3bg66x
3.6.Greening of SSE customers Scottish and Southern Energy is planning a new incentive scheme that could help "green" customers save about £100 a year on their bills. It is launching a system of energy efficiency credits, which its 7.7million customers can earn by measures including cutting gas and electricity costs by 10%, buying low-energy appliances and installing loft insulation http://www.thisisnorthscotland.co.uk/
3.7.Power groups get carbon billions Britain's power generators have made £2bn in windfall profits by passing on charges to customers under a scheme which was introduced to combat climate change.. http://tinyurl.com/2cl5m4
3.8.JV to generate RE from gas pressure National Grid and geo-pressure energy company 2OC agreed to form a joint venture that will use turbine technology to generate renewable electricity from natural gas pressure in the pipe network http://tinyurl.com/27us43
7.3.Man-made microbe for 'endless biofuel' A scientist is poised to create the world's first man-made species, a synthetic microbe that could lead to an endless supply of biofuel http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/
7.4.Holy Grail of biofuel getting closer The industrial production of cellulose ethanol at a competitive cost with gasoline, seen by many as the Holy Grail of biofuels production, is as close as two years away, researchers said. http://tinyurl.com/22s2zm
... and from issue 91:
4.GRID, TRANSMISSION, NETWORK NEWS 4.1.£1bn government green energy supply deal EDF Energy has a won a four-year contract worth £1bn to supply renewable energy to 300 government departments and civil service bodies http://tinyurl.com/2cfct4
4.2.Energy prices must rise Alistair Buchanan, chief executive of Ofgem, asks how much we should pay in our energy bills towards eradicating the threat of climate change http://tinyurl.com/3d9fyy
4.3.Eon UK has reached "five minutes to midnight" Paul Golby, the chief executive of Eon UK addressing Prospect, the technical union, argued that the government urgently needs to put in place the policies to encourage nuclear power, clean coal and more renewable energy, or it will leave the second "dash for gas" as the only way to keep the lights on http://tinyurl.com/35b6d4
4.4.Beauly-Denny underground plans Scottish and Southern Energy is understood to have offered to bury power lines at two particularly sensitive Highland locations in an effort to appease opponents of its plans for bigger pylons between Beauly and Denny http://www.thisisnorthscotland.co.uk/
4.5.Energy customers prepared to pay more Research commissioned by Ofgem shows that energy customers are prepared to accept increases in their energy bills to cover the costs of reducing CO2 emissions http://tinyurl.com/2p9que
4.6.Carbon cutting role for energy companies Gas and electricity companies of the future could be as much about helping customers cut their energy use and CO2 footprint as selling units of energy, Environment and Climate Change Minister Ian Pearson said http://tinyurl.com/38p8zc
4.7.Shift in power company thinking According to the Energy and Efficiency: Utilities Global Survey 2007 from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), companies worldwide are expecting wind and nuclear to provide an increasing share of energy production http://www.thisisnorthscotland.co.uk/
14.MICROGENERATION 14.1.New turbine design wins BSI prize A new design for personal wind turbines wins top prize at the BSI Sustainability Design Awards 2007. It uses vertical, rather than traditional horizontal, rotation http://tinyurl.com/2naygm
APPENDIX B SSE hands massive salary increases to executives
An article: SSE hands massive salary increases to executives The Herald, 13 Jun 2007 PAUL ROGERSON, City Editor
claims that Scottish & Southern Energy has handed its top executives salary increases in excess of inflation.
The article is copyrighted so is not produced in full here. Extracts follow.
On January 1 this year, the company's annual report discloses, SSE's four executive directors saw their basic salaries rise by between 9% and 17%. Chief executive Ian Marchant is now on a basic of £720,000 - an increase of around £100,000 in the past two years.
The report of the Perth-based parent company of Scottish Hydro- Electric, posted on its website yesterday, showed that Marchant's salary, annual bonus, and benefits jumped by more than 16% to £1.21m in 2006-07, up from £1.04m in the prior financial year. As well as his basic salary of £675,000, bonus of £518,000 and benefits of £17,000, Marchant, 46, was awarded 46,081 shares under the deferred bonus plan.
These shares had a value of nearly £670,000 at last night's closing price - though they will only vest in future if Marchant remains with the company - taking his total remuneration for the year to nearly £1.9m. Marchant also made a notional gain on the exercise of share options of £408,876.
The annual report also shows that Colin Hood, who joined the board of SSE in January 2001 as power systems director and became chief operating officer in October 2002, was paid salary, bonus and benefits totalling £894,000 in 2006-07, up from £772,000 last time. Hood, 52, was awarded 33,446 shares under the deferred bonus plan worth nearly £500,000 at yesterday's closing price of 1449p.
APPENDIX C Country Guardian newsletter Open View #50 of Spring 2007
Congratulations Country Guardian on the 50th newsletter and the excellent detailed records of windfarm developments. Actually it is the "Red Booklet", now in its 12th edition, which logs all the details. The newsletter reports a summary up to the end of January 2007, with a total of 966 UK sites involved, broken down in categories: Operational (136), Approved (118), Applied (163), Proposal (309) and Failed (240), also listed by the four home countries.
The newsletter also lists contact details for the 125 affiliated action groups and includes many useful items of policy news.
On the front cover there is a piece titled "Inconvenient Truth or Climate Swindle", referring to Al Gore's famous film and a recently broadcast response to it. The piece starts:
"Science develops like a sort of legal process, with Prosecution and Defence witnesses. Sometimes, as in the case of the impact of CO2 on the climate, the arguments get vicious, and we wonder how adults can behave like this. In fact they all agree about the fact that CO2 is a greenhouse gas and that some of it is produced by humans."
Then later it says of the scientists: "But the more they discover the more they realise they need to discover a lot more and it will cost a lot and take a long time."
No, they are not talking about EMF and SAGE, but they might have been!
-- Mike O'Carroll
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