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SCOTLAND: Carmichael has productive meeting with energy minister

February 27, 2004 12:00 AM

MP for Orkney and Shetland Alistair Carmichael yesterday had what he described as "productive" a meeting with Energy Minister Stephen Timms MP and the Chairman of Ofgem, Sir John Mogg. During the meeting, Mr Timms confirmed that the DTI plans to amend the Energy Bill in order to give the Government the power to limit the transmission access charges placed on renewable energy producers in the North of Scotland. Sir John reaffirmed Ofgem's opposition to the proposal on the grounds that it would distort the free market and prevent "cost reflective pricing".

Mr Carmichael said:

"It was a very useful meeting despite the hostility towards a reduction in charges expressed by Ofgem. There is a determination in Government to ensure that amendments are made to the bill. However, the proposal from the Government at this stage is simply for them to grant themselves the power to limit access charges. Once they have this authority it will be incumbent on us to make the case for that power to be used.

"What is beyond doubt is that there remains extremely strong opposition to the plan at the very highest level of Ofgem. It is therefore vital to maintain the political pressure on Government so that they make necessary changes to this legislation.

"During the course of discussions it became very clear that Ofgem's remit results in it evaluating policy through a very narrow financial perspective. The Government must consider what is in the long term interest of this country. I have no doubt that it will benefit us all if we hardness the vast renewables potential in the North of Scotland. That will only happen if producers can obtain access to the market on a fair basis."