On hearing today’s news that SSE is launching a new panel, headed by Scotland’s former first minister Lord McConnell, to oversee around £90m in community funding for areas the company is developing wind farms in, I looked up SSE’s annual report.
Great news for shareholders; really bad news for electricity consumers and those of us unfortunate to live in or love areas blighted by wind farms.
I hope there will be some shareholders at the AGM in Perth on Thursday (25 July) brave and honourable enough to challenge the board’s policy of enriching shareholders whatever the cost to consumers and the environment.
Here is the press comment SAS issued in response to the SSE news:
In the last financial year SSE made record profits supplying electricity – and helped plunge more households than ever before into fuel poverty.
SSE profits were a third more than in 2011/12 – at £410.1 million. It was also caught out and fined £10.5 million by regulators for misleading potential customers over prices.
At the same time the company, which is the largest generator of electricity from wind in the UK, has been bullish about defending its right to make a profit via unprecedented price rises for consumers which it insists will continue.
This community fund is a callous PR stunt which will do absolutely nothing to help low and middle-income families with galloping electricity bills over the next 25 years.
Like all community benefit schemes, this is no more than a bribe for some communities and an insult to others forced to live with wind farms. Worst of all, the benefit is a miniscule fraction of the profits SSE will reap from its wind farms, and these profits would not be generated without the subsidies which are paid directly by every UK electricity consumer.
In other words, what SSE is talking about is returning a modest portion of the hundreds of millions of pounds it expects to extract from beleaguered consumers to subsidise its eye-wateringly expensive and inefficient wind farms.
SSE shareholders, on the other hand, who are enjoying an inflation-busting increase to their dividend of 5.1% and are promised many more, will have a real cushion when it comes to paying their rocketing electricity bills.
We are horrified to read that SSE has enough wind farms in the pipeline to fund £240 million worth of community benefit, should they gain planning permission. More, not fewer, families will face fuel poverty because of SSE’s Father Christmas act, and it’s high time SSE stopped treating its customers like gullible infants. How about asking the communities they want to inflict these environmentally damaging developments on whether they want them and whether they are prepared to pay ever higher electricity bills to fund them and boost SSE profits?