Wind farm operators are being paid millions for “wasted” electricity under a complex system known as constraint payments.
The money is paid out when turbines are spinning but the electricity they are generating is surplus to requirements.
Freedom of Information documents reveal that since 2011 more than £26.5million has been paid out under the scheme.
The payments, branded “utterly bonkers” by Conservative MP Chris Heaton-Harris, will enrage consumers facing an effective £100 surcharge on their bills for green energy.
The National Grid makes the payments if wind power is surplus to requirements or cannot be fed to places that need it because of system bottlenecks.
In 2011, the payments totalled £12.8 million. A further £5.9 million was paid out to firms, many of which are based abroad, in 2012. Payments for 2013 have already reached £7.8 million.
Those payments have been made for approximately 185 gigawatt hours (GWh) of unused electricity, enough to provide 56,000 homes with electricity for a year.
Mr Heaton-Harris, who last week tabled written Parliamentary questions on the issue, said: “It just shows how utterly bonkers the policy we have been following for the past few years has been. It is a terrible and expensive waste and just exposes the lunacy of the subsidy regime we are following.”
Energy charity director Dr John Constable said: “This can’t go on. Regulator Ofgem needs to step in immediately to protect the consumer and put a stop to what appear to be unreasonably high wind constraint charges.”
Matthew Sinclair, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “It is outrageous. Taxpayers’ money is actually being used to pay wind farms not to produce energy.”
Ofgem said: “If these payments didn’t exist, National Grid would have to build extra network capacity which may not be frequently used. The cost of this would be added to customer bills.”
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