ScottishPower has been paid £107 million for switching off its wind turbines during a three-year delay in completing an undersea cable project which was supposed to solve that very problem.
The £1 billion Western Link from Ayrshire to North Wales was specifically designed to prevent so-called “constraint payments”, by allowing more Scottish green electricity to reach consumers in England.
Previously, huge amounts of electricity from Scotland’s wind farms became stuck in a bottleneck at the Border, resulting in operators being paid millions of pounds to shut down – and the cost being passed on to household bills.
The new high voltage link, a joint venture between SP Energy Networks and National Grid, was commissioned in 2012 and the project was supposed to be completed by December 2015.
However, a series of major problems delayed that completion for well over two years. The Western Link then operated at a reduced capacity until last May – when it was shut down again – before finally coming online on 16 October.
So throughout that period, ScottishPower shareholders were being paid for doing almost entirely nothing. Shame that these shareholders are now to be found mostly in Spain. However much it wraps itself in tartan, the fact remains that it is Iberdrola of Madrid, not ScottishPower of Glasgow, that benefits.