The UK wind energy industry received its first local energy tariff today, designed to reward households using energy generated from nearby onshore wind farms.
Good Energy's Local Tariff will reward households who live within two kilometres of the company’s flagship 9.2MW Delabole wind farm in north Cornwall with a 20% discount on its standard electricity prices, Saving around £100 over a year.
The tariff will also pay out a 'windfall' credit of up to £50 per household every year that the turbines exceed their expected performance.
Juliet Davenport, chief executive of Good Energy, said: “Wind power has a huge role to play in meeting the UK's future energy needs, and we think that it's only right that our local communities should be recognised for their contribution to tackling climate change and reducing the UK’s reliance on expensive imported fossil fuels.
“When we researched opinion in the local community, there was a very positive response from residents with 68% of those surveyed saying they would consider switching to a Good Energy Local Tariff once the benefits were explained to them. This response is in line with the many inspiring community projects, such as Gigha in the Hebrides which generates two thirds of its own electricity with three wind turbines which are owned by the community."
Good Energy now plans to develop 110MW of new renewable sites by 2016 across a number of technologies.
The future of onshore wind has been hotly debated in the run-up to the government’s Energy Bill, due to be published later this week, with critics arguing that wind farms are being "imposed" on communities.
Energy Secretary Ed Davey launched a consultation in September 2012 to explore how communities secure financial, social and environmental benefit from hosting onshore 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.
Kate Rose, head of energy at Confused.com, told Huff Post UK that the reliance on wholesale markets and rising costs has been a standard excuse for the 'Big Six' energy firms when explaining the string of price hikes that have been announced over the last 18 months, leaving many consumers disengaged and struggling to pay their bills.
"With Good Energy planning to roll out this new tariff to further communities and with potential savings of over £100 a year we believe this will prove a popular choice for consumers," she said.
"While the number of households that could benefit from this new tariff may be small, we hope other suppliers look carefully at how Good Energy are adapting their tariffs and services to meet both environmental and consumer needs and follow suit.
"Innovation that engages communities, promotes environmental issues and works towards driving down energy bills is exactly what is needed to reengage consumers and rebuild trust in the energy market."