A Shetland tariff offering reduced electricity prices to tackle fuel poverty is hoped to be achieved by the time the Viking Energy windfarm goes online.
The SIC’s director of infrastructure John Smith outlined the desired timetable for delivering the much sought after tariff at the council’s policy and resources committee on Tuesday.
The council has been campaigning for reduced energy prices for consumers, arguing it should be available as a trade off for hosting what is set to become one of the most productive onshore windfarms in the world.
While no agreement has yet been reached, Mr Smith said the council was seeking to make progress by the time the windfarm is operational in 2024 – and “quicker if possible”.
Mr Smith said the Viking project would produce far more green electricity than can be used locally.
“Most will be going down south, some might be going wholesale to some big industrial customers,” he said.
“That would be the opportune point to make sure the Shetland tariff was in place.
“So when it all comes on stream, there was a direct benefit for Shetland customers at the same time.
“That’s the timetable we’re pursuing and seeking to make progress.”
Mr Smith’s comments were made during a discussion about fuel poverty as part of a report on climate change.
Shetland South member Allison Duncan had questioned what was being done to tackle the problem, which is more keenly felt in Shetland due to the higher energy costs.
The latest statics show 31 per cent of Shetland households are in fuel poverty with 22 per cent living in extreme fuel poverty.
Lerwick Community Council agreed last month to explore options for an “energy trust” to tackle fuel poverty, which had first been raised during the election campaign of Shetland’s SNP candidate Tom Wills.
Bryan Leask vice chairman of the Shetland Fuel Poverty Action Group and chief executive of Hjaltland Housing Association, has also made recent calls urging politicians to make tackling the issue a top priority.
Mr Duncan said: “It’s certainly hit the headlines in Shetland recently and the sooner we can eradicate this problem the better.”
The SIC’s environment and estate manager Carl Symons said a cross departmental team had been set up to “improve the fuel poverty journey” for Shetland residents.
Mr said the aim was to make it simpler for residents to find help on the issue “beacuse ot’s fairly opaque at the moment”.
“So we’re looking to put in place basically a one stop shop type service for fuel poverty,” he said.
Mr Symons said the group would be speaking to local suppliers and installers of energy efficiency measures, as well as residents and government.
“These are ongoing and we are hoping to report back to the committee at the start of the year identifying the route forward,” he added.
Presenting the report on climate change, Mr Symons said the council had “deployed significant resources” as part of its route map to net zero.
He warned, however, that a “one size fits all” approach would not work in Shetland.
“Political support will be essential in getting the island proofing message across to the Scottish government,” he added.