Rush is on to harness valuable subsidy

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WINDFARMS are subsidised by consumers through their electricity bills as part of a Government policy to encourage development of alternative sources of power.

Since the subsidy came into operation in 1991, 22 windfarms have been built, several more are under construction and hundreds are being planned.

Electricity from windfarms and other alternative sources of power is paid for at a rate of 11p per kilowatt hour - compared with 2.5 to 3p for electricity generated by conventional means. This special price is guaranteed until 1998 and adds 0.2 per cent to electricity bills.

Bids for a new round of alternative energy projects are now being received under a new government scheme which will be financed over 15 years. Projects to obtain energy from municipal and industrial waste and from energy crops and agricultural waste are also being considered.

Some 1,200 projects are on the drawing board. Each project is being asked to tender a price for supplying electricity and these bids will be accepted on a competitive basis.