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Electricity to cost less brass on Muck

A wind turbine soon to be installed on the Isle of Muck, off the west coast of Scotland, is set to drastrically reduce electricity costs. Muck's 38 inhabitants pay around £0.26 per unit of diesel generated electricity, probably the most expensive in the country. The average price nationally is £0.06-0.07/kWh. The wind turbine, backed by the three diesel units, will bring down the cost to around £0.10/kWh.

Islanders will have three tariffs and a set of lights in their homes will indicate which is in operation. A green light will indicate that cheap wind units are available; amber will show a mixture of wind and diesel, and in calm weather red will appear for diesel only.

The £200,000 project has been devised by ScottishPower, which believes it could be copied for other island communities. A grant of £95,000 from the National Lottery Charities Board got it off the ground. Other backing has come from LEC Lochaber, Lochaber Leader Project, Highland council and the islanders' own pockets.

The community has already undertaken much of the hard graft to prepare for the turbine: digging five kilometres of trenches, laying power cables, creating an access road, civil works for a mini grid and a building to house the diesel generators and control system. The work was completed six years ago in preparation for a 100 kW Windharvester wind/diesel system, but the EU backed project foundered when Windharvester Ltd went bankrupt.

ScottishPower has put the turbine contract out to tender. It hopes for one 50 kW or two 25 kW turbines. The contract should be placed this month and cheaper island power will flow from October.

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