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United Kingdom : Community wind farms to connect to National Grid.

Six community-owned energy companies based in a remote part of Scotland have been given permission to connect 11 wind turbines to the National Grid.

It is hoped the turbines will generate profits of [pounds sterling]2.5m a year for the economy in the Western Isles.

The turbines - to be sited in communities from Galson in the north of Lewis to Barra and Vatersay in the south of the island chain - will supply the energy needs of the equivalent of 15,000 households and reduce CO2 emissions from oil by more than 60,000 tonnes.

The developments are estimated to boost the economy of the islands by [pounds sterling]60m over the 25-year life span of the turbines.

Profits will be spent on environmental, social and cultural schemes across the Western Isles that are expected to create 100 sustainable jobs.

Planning permission to erect community turbines has already been granted by the local authority, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, but the companies had feared they would not be allowed to connect to the National Grid until a new subsea cable linked the Western Isles to the mainland in 2014.

EcoHeb, the registered co-operative that represents all the islands' energy companies, has now been told their campaign for an early connection to the National Grid has been successful and that Ofgem has approved the link.

Scottish and Southern Electricity (SSE) is expected to write to the successful companies within the next few weeks to give them their grid connection dates.

It is expected the first of the community wind farms will be generating power and profits by 2011.

David Wright, EcoHeb chairman, said: "This is an investment of [pounds sterling]22m in the future of the Western Isles.

"The fact that the largest private investment in the history of the islands has all been achieved by community effort and not by big multinational companies is fantastic news. All the schemes are 100% community owned and all of them will be returning every penny they make back into their communities.

"This breakthrough should encourage other communities to set up their own energy companies and to build even bigger and more profitable schemes. This is a renewables and a social revolution and it shows that the community sector can now compete with the big multinationals and deliver a lot more benefit back into their own areas."

One of the wind farms, Barra and Vatersay Community Ltd and Sandwick Power, will be the biggest community windfarm in the UK, with three turbines generating 9MW.

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Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 26, 2010
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