RAB Wilson highlights Tom Johnston’s role in persuading Churchill to pass a Bill to set up the North of Scotland Hydro Board. I wonder what Johnston would think if he were alive today?

In 1990 all these assets were privatised for a book value of £190 million. At that time they were producing the cheapest electricity in GB. They also operated within a Scottish grid system so they benefitted the Highlands and Scotland.

Then along came the global warming issue and a demand for investment in NEW renewable sources of electricity. A subsidy regime called Renewable Obligation Certificates was introduced in 2001 to encourage this new investment and in the consultation exercise new hydro stations of less than 5MW capacity were included.

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However, dozens of stations built before 2000 and with a “declared net capacity” of less than 20MWs were accredited for subsidy and six stations were allowed to throttle back and “declare” a capacity of less than 20MWs to qualify. A total of more than 2.2 million ROCs have been issed — with a subsidy value of more than £1 billion, all passed on to the electricity consumer.
Nick Dekker