Going Green for Life

News and information about Going Green on a Global Scale.

See what effects your economy and how you can Go Green for Life!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

British Telelcom blown away

Posted by AccGURU

British Telelcom blown away

Blown away
Jonathan Leake and Joseph Dunn, The Sunday Times, 15 Feb 2009
ONE of Britain's biggest privately funded eco-projects could be on the verge of collapse. British Telecom said last week that it was preparing to pull the plug on a £250m plan to build electricity-generating wind farms because of a rule change by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).
BT, whose shares hit a record low in trading last week, planned to build 100 turbines on 20-30 sites in England and Scotland capable of generating 25% of its power needs. At a cost of £250m it represented the biggest investment in renewable energy by any British company apart from energy businesses.

But last week the scheme was in disarray, with BT and the government each blaming the other for the impending collapse. BT claims that new rules make the project unviable and that the government is now in effect discouraging companies from switching to renewable energy.

At the root of the dispute is a row over government-issued credits called Renewable Obligation Certificates (Rocs).

"Overall, we support what the government is trying to do to promote energy efficiency, but the ruling on Rocs means there is no sense in us building wind turbines," said Chris Tup-pen, BT's chief sustainability officer. "It is a perverse ruling that will also affect a number of other big businesses that are trying to act responsibly.

"We planned to build wind turbines that would generate a quarter of BT's electricity by 2016. Without the subsidy that will not go ahead."

A spokesman for the DECC blamed the problem on BT's plans to profit from the wind farms by selling electricity and reducing its CO2 footprint at the same time as claiming subsidies, thus "having its cake and eating it".

"It's an accounting thing but it's very important," a government spokesman said. "We have to be very tough on it. The Roc is not a subsidy. If you sell the energy to the National Grid it is used to offset the grid's emissions. You can't both claim the money and use it to offset the company's own emissions. That's double accounting."

Ed Miliband, the energy and climate change secretary, is expected to announce a consultation on its so-called carbon-reduction commitment (CRC) – the scheme that blocks BT from claiming credits at the same time as counting its green energy against its CO2 footprint – in late spring. BT and other firms are already lobbying to block it or change it.

Among them is Tesco, which is becoming increasingly interested in renewable-energy generation. David North, community and government director at Tesco, said: "I can see why the civil servants see this as double counting but the effect is to hold up renewable-energy initiatives. The government needs to find a way around this, perhaps by creating other incentives to help companies that are not power generators or other large fossil fuel users to switch to renewable energy."

So where did it all go wrong? Hailed as an example of how businesses and government could work together to reduce carbon emissions, BT's wind-power project was welcomed by the government when it was revealed two years ago. But the row now illustrates the fiendish complexity of the subsidy regimes devised to encourage the expansion of renewable-energy generation.

Rocs are issued by Ofgem, the energy regulator, to companies that produce green energy and can be sold on to third parties such as power generators, who have to prove – via the Rocs – that they gain a percentage of their power from renewable sources.

By selling the Roc, a company such as BT in effect gains a government subsidy on its green power. The government says BT is not entitled to that subsidy if it also exploits the fact that it produces renewable energy to reduce its overall carbon footprint.



Post a Comment