Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Benefits to consumers from wind energy

The publication by the Department of the Environment of planning statistics for renewable energy has generated much comment – most of it one-sided.

Anti-wind campaigners have misused a single departmental map to suggest that Northern Ireland is under a "forest of windmills" – without admitting that the map shows planning applications for single, small-scale turbines more typically found at homes and farms, rather than the commercial wind farms they are actually campaigning against.

In fact, the department's equivalent map for commercial wind farms tells a very different story.

The same departmental statistics highlight that less than 5% of all planning applications received this year for renewable energy are for wind farms.

I agree with the Belfast Telegraph's leader column that the wind energy industry must provide clear evidence of the consumer benefit of wind.

As the number one green energy generator/provider, SSE Airtricity doesn't "short change" those living near our wind farms.

The construction of our 73MW Slieve Kirk Wind Park in Londonderry resulted in a £36m investment spent directly with 75 local businesses.

Over the next 25 years, we'll pay out another £18.5m locally from this wind farm through commercial rates, landowner leases and community funding.

It's simply not true to say that there's no evidence that electricity prices are lowered by the input of green energy onto the grid.

It's a fact of the single electricity market here that wind-generated energy reduces the wholesale price for everyone.

For further evidence of consumer benefits, look at what we have delivered to our consumers.

Since 2010, we've delivered savings of around £17m to our 185,000 customers. What's more, if Northern Ireland's 778,854 households switched to Airtricity for our discounted products, consumers would save almost £55m over two years – equivalent to about £70 per household.

What other energy source is as clean, or sustainable, or delivers the same economic, community and consumer benefits?

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