November 19, 2012 6:58 pm

Cornish villagers offered wind farm bonus

People living near a Cornish wind farm are to be given the chance to save up to £150 a year on power bills in a sign of the green energy industry pushing back against growing hostility to onshore turbines.

In a novel approach for the UK, Good Energy, the renewable power supplier, will offer a 20 per cent discount on bills to anyone living within 2km of its wind farm near Delabole village in north Cornwall from next year.

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This is expected to save about £100 a year on an average bill. A further £50 will be paid to each household every year the turbines generate more electricity than expected.

“We felt communities need to be recognised for their contribution in combating climate change and reducing our dependence on fossil fuels,” said Juliet Davenport, chief executive of Good Energy, which was admitted to London’s junior Aim market in July.

The company will set aside £25,000 to fund the new tariff each year. The discount will be made available to the first 300 households who apply and are deemed eligible. People outside the 2km radius will not qualify.

The move comes amid a bitter row within the coalition government over onshore wind farms, which John Hayes, the Conservative junior energy minister, has repeatedly attacked.

His boss, Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat energy secretary, has firmly rejected Mr Hayes’s suggestion that the government is about to back off supporting the wind farms “peppered” around the country.

The spat has shown no signs of abating in the lead-up to the publication of an energy bill that would replace existing green energy subsidies with a new system of guaranteed payments to encourage more low-carbon power generation.

This has prompted comparisons with the way other European countries have handled claims that wind farms enrich their owners while blighting the views of people who live nearby.

Good Energy said the latest government research showed onshore wind power was supported by 66 per cent of the public, with only 12 per cent opposed, including 4 per cent who were strongly opposed.

The company cited evidence that communities become more supportive when they benefited directly from local wind farms.

“There is much greater public acceptance of renewables in Germany, where two-thirds of all turbines and solar panels are owned by individuals, farmers and communities,” it added.

Good Energy, which was founded in 1999 and has 30,000 electricity customers, will offer its new tariff to both new and existing customers living near its Delabole site, which has four large turbines and is one of the oldest wind farms in the UK.

It plans to extend the tariff to other onshore wind sites that it plans to develop over the next four years.

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