DOWN Cllr Cadogan Enright has welcomed the announcement by the Department of Agriculture that they would provide compensation to farmers who installed faulty wind turbines under a Department-backed scheme.
Cllr Enright said, “Back in July I highlighted the problem of faulty wind turbines which were installed on 26 farms through the Department of Agriculture’s ‘Wind Energy for Rural Business’ project. A number of local farmers have paid substantial amounts of their own money and received incentive grants from the Department.
Unfortunately the department chose inappropriate systems from China and did not look to qualified local installers. Instead of dramatically cutting farmers heat and power bills, the faulty turbines have been idle ever since.”
“I am pleased that most of the farmers who invested in renewable energy are being given some form of compensation, but I am disappointed that the Department of Agriculture will not reimburse their total costs, nor will all the farmers who had faulty turbines receive compensation”.
Eleven turbines imported from China proved to be faulty and the owners of these are being reimbursed, but a further four turbines which can be repaired will not be eligible for compensation. The DARD report recommended offering an ‘ex-gratia’ payment only to those who bought the Powerbreeze turbines, even though three other turbines are broken and the rest are producing significantly less power than predicted.
Cllr Enright said, “Unfortunately, the Department of Agriculture was trying to achieve a positive change for the farmers who were embracing renewable energy, yet the scheme failed because they used sub-standard turbines and a company which had never carried out installations before. This is a lesson that well-produced, European turbines installed by properly trained local installers are capable of providing viable returns for farmers and homeowners. Over £100,000 could have been saved if this had been done at the start.”
“Locally produced renewable energy offers the potential to increase business competitiveness and stimulate diversification in rural communities and I hope they will continue to embrace renewable energy” he concluded.