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Turbine company leaves Scottish farmers out-of-pocket

During the great rush to farmscale windpower generation, fuelled by generous Feed-in Tariffs, hundreds of Scottish farmers chose to install Irish-built C and F turbines – a choice they are now regretting.

Several hundred farmers from across the country have suffered huge cost implications as a result of having C and F turbines, which have fallen into disrepair and not been serviced properly, or at all.

A group, which was set up three years ago for wind turbine customers, has received more than 150 new members in the last two months from desperate C and F customers who claim to be losing thousands of pounds on their investments.

Alex MacLean-Bristol, a turbine owner from the Isle of Coll and head of the group, told The Scottish Farmer: “I set up the group three years ago when there was a lot of slagging off of certain turbines. I thought if problems occurred in the future we would have a database of complaints.

“We are at the end of a three-year gold rush to manufacture and buy turbines, encouraged by government, and if you were in windy place it looked like a great option to make money.

“A lot of farmers saw an opportunity, jumped in and maybe bought a turbine that we knew was fairly new and put faith in the testing scheme – this all put pressure on the company to produce before the feed in tarrif drops.

“Quite a lot of people paid the full service fee upfront but only received one service in three years – small turbines need serviced every year.

“Others have experienced a part shortage in repair supplies, meaning machines have broken down and haven’t been repaired.”

C and F has also recently increased its service charge by almost double the cost – proving to be the last straw for unhappy customers.

The group met with C and F, in London, last week in an attempt to negotiate over maintenance costs and repairs.

Mr MacLean-Bristol added: “The most important thing was C and F came to the table to come up with a service solution that is working and long term. But most people who are out of pocket need the money now to get them to work and some people simply can’t pay off their loan.”

The English NFU and NFUS were also in attendance following numerous complaints from members.

NFUS’ chief executive, Scott Walker, told The SF: “We have been contacted by more than 50 members who purchased wind turbines from C and F Green Energy and are now concerned with proposed changes to their contract terms for servicing.

“In addition, some of our members have reported that they have not been receiving some services for which they have pre-paid. We have been in contact with others across the UK who have purchased wind turbines from C and F Green Energy and who have experienced similar problems.

“A meeting, hosted by Renewables UK, was held with the company last week to find a solution to these issues. NFUS is hosting another meeting next week to see how matters may be resolved.

“As discussions continue, we remind members that if they agree to the proposed changes to their contract terms for servicing then these changes will be binding.

For those members who have not received services for which they have pre-paid, their contract will set out the dispute process that should be followed in order to resolve this issue.”

A C and F spokesman said: “We recognised that we have had issues over last winter, we are working hard to resolve these issues.

“We will be writing to notify each customer individually, outlining our plan of action in the coming weeks.”