Consumers paid out £24 million last year to wind farm owners who had to switch off their turbines because the conditions meant they could not operate, the Government has admitted.
The Tory MP for Rugby, Mark Pawsey, said many payments were being made because it was often too breezy for turbines to work as the electricity grid could not cope with the power that they generated in high winds. In other cases, turbines have been switched off because there is not enough wind.
He said it was left to energy consumers to pick up the tab in the form of higher energy bills.
In a question to Energy Minister Charles Hendry, he said: “My constituents in Rugby who face applications for wind farms will be concerned about reports that turbines are switched off at times of high wind speed because the current infrastructure is unable to handle the amount of electricity is generated.
“What steps are you taking to protect consumers from this increase in their electricity bills?”
Mr Hendry played down the millions paid to wind farm owners, saying that the £24 million accounted for just 10% of the total amount of “constraint payments” – compensation offered to providers when they have to shut down.
He said: “About £250 million were paid last year in constraint payments of which only 10%, £24 million, were paid to the wind sector. The Government… is trying to ensure that there are upgrades in many parts of the country to ensure the power can get to where it needs to be.”
Speaking outside the Commons chamber, Mr Pawsey said he supported the Government’s efforts to increase the renewable sources of energy but added consumers should not have to pick up unnecessary costs.
He said: “Millions are being blown because it is too windy. I am a supporter of the Government intentions to increase renewable energy but it does seem daft because wind farm owners are having to be compensated when they are turned off. We are trying to turn people over to renewable energy but it doesn’t seem to make much sense.”
In October, a written question from Tory MPs Simon Kirby and Steve Brine found that wind farms across the UK were told to shut down for 37 days between January and mid-September 2011.