Maybe it’s the Energy Sector equivalent of trickle-down economics but I’m not impressed by the crumbs we’re getting from the table, as I never bought into the Reagan economic doctrine. Renewable energy’s a remarkable bounty and I want to know where’s our fair share.
Recently, I saw both Labour/Tory East Lothian Council and the SNP/Green Scottish Government effusive in their praise for a donation of £1 million to a fuel poverty fund to be administered by Advice Direct Scotland. Glory hallelujah we had been saved seemed to be the message from both. Bow down and be grateful for such largesse.
Who could criticize that generous contribution by East Lothian Community Windpower Ltd? Proportionally it may well be significantly greater than that made by many of the bigger energy providers. But questions still arise?
Who are Community Windpower Ltd? The name conjures up images from my youth with the Bo’ness and Carriden Co-op. But its neither a co-op nor community owned in any shape or form. A brief review of company accounts shows its wholly owned by another Community Windpower ltd this time located in Cheshire. Ownership of the latter rests with two individuals. There’s zero percent community ownership despite the name, there’s not even a community seat on the board as given by many clubs to football fans.
Well, what then about the cash as a £1 million in these hard times isn’t to be sniffed at. Well that’s where it becomes difficult as requests to the company, corporate communication companies and even governments to find out what percentage of profits this is and what further annual contributions will be made have gone largely unclarified.
Yet a brief glimpse of accounts shows recent significant dividend payments to directors not a kick in the grass away from the sum trumpeted. Dividend payments incur less personal taxation than a salary payment would.
Of course, this payment’s welcome but the name belies the reality that it’s a private company not a community and the sums are a fraction of the annual profits, let alone corporate turnover with the turbines turning for decades not just a year.
As ever with renewables all I’m asking’s where’s ours?