The SNP's approval of the extension of Hunterston's lifetime beyond 2011 is a welcome, if belated and partial, recognition of reality. With Hunterston due to close in 2011 and wind struggling to produce more than 3% (unreliably), despite Scottish Government subsidises of around £1bn annually, we were facing massive blackouts.

We still are. They have merely been put back a few years and will be all the worse when they happen. Meanwhile, should we expect an apology from all those politicians who have insisted that nuclear is dangerous and waste is a problem? If it is safe to run Hunterston so far beyond its design life (rarely a good idea in any engineering project and using a reactor that produces considerably more waste per KWh than more modern ones) then they cannot have been telling the truth.

However, this has merely put off a decision. Hunterston is already working at only 50% capacity owing to age. This is like running a 40-year-old car with only one cylinder rather than buying a new one because you believe bicycles are the future. For the £1bn subsidy going to wind we could, if our government were acting responsibly, have two new reactors the size of Hunterston annually, with our electricity at well under half the current price. A few weeks ago Alex Salmond promised us a "Celtic Lion" economy with a growth rate to match Ireland. We could certainly have that if the political will were there, but not with an expensive and collapsing electricity system.

Neil Craig, 200 Woodlands Road, Glasgow.

It is difficult to disagree with the sentiments expressed by S Noble and A Mackenzie (Letters, December 10) when they ascribe global warming problems to population levels, particularly when these levels are allied to "first world" lifestyles.

Unfortunately, the current orthodoxy in economics is that human progress is dependent on growth, brought about by the unfettered operation of the market, through free-trade and globalisation. Worryingly, the laws of commerce which have led to this dangerous conclusion are almost viewed as laws of nature. They are not, of course. Other models of economic activity are perfectly possible, and those models which eschew growth will need to be considered seriously before long, if we are to avert the worst predictions of the global-warming experts. John Maynard Keynes once said that "ideas, knowledge, science, hospitality - these are things that of their nature should be international. But let goods be homespun wherever it is reasonable and commercially possible, and, above all, let finance be primarily national".

It troubles me that the media, politicians, industrialists, economists and even some scientists continue to "green wash" the situation by propagating the myth that renewable sources of power will allow 6.5 billion people, growing rapidly to 10 billion, to pursue western-style, energy-wasteful modes of living, while at the same time protecting the planet. I suspect that even if every suitable pocket of land on the surface of the planet were covered with windmills, solar panels and biofuel crops, and if every suitable sea shelf, estuary and strait were furnished with windmills, wave machines and barrage systems, we would still have insufficient power from renewables to accomplish this.

Genuine sustainability for the planet will require massive cuts in energy usage, particularly in the west, but on recent evidence also in India and China. This can probably only be achieved in conjunction with planned population decline, not in the third world, as Ian F M Saint-Ives seems to suggest (Letters, December 11), but in the first. This message is, of course, so politically unpalatable that it will never be presented to the electorate, here or anywhere else.

Alan J Sangster, 37 Craigmount Terrace, Edinburgh.

Although the installed capacity of Whitelee is 322 megawatt (MW) ScottishPower will be lucky to obtain 30% of the possible megawatt hour (MWh) output. In addition, there are several points that arise from Nick Dekker's letter (December 11).

First, when I was a Scottish Hydro-Electric customer in Easter Ross, our bills showed the cost of Renewables Obligation Certificates (ROCs) to domestic consumers. ScottishPower bills did not show this information and when I wrote to the regulator asking that he require all electricity suppliers to break down bills to show the cost of ROCs separately the response was that the regulator did not have the power to require companies to do this. So much for openness and transparency. Given the increased proportion of gas-fired generation I suspect the percentage element of ROCs will have increased.

Secondly, while Whitelee is ideally placed to supply Glasgow and west-central Scotland, the UK government levies a swingeing connection charge on generators in Scotland. This is used to provide a subsidy to connections in the south-east of England. So much for a level playing field.

Thirdly, by their nature, wind-powered turbines can continue to generate electricity when not required. Pumped storage is probably one of the best ways of storing surplus electricity. The largest hydro-electric scheme for around 40 years is under construction at Glen Doe near Fort Augustus. Although this high head station discharging into Loch Ness would have been ideal for storage on the incorporation of a suitable pumping arrangement, the previous Scottish Executive made no attempt to require the developer to do so. An opportunity to utilise this valuable site has, perhaps, been lost.

Fourthly, two years ago at the opening of the Farr wind farm near the Great Glen we were allowed into the local control room. I was surprised to find the meters showed the rotating blades were not generating any electricity. On inquiring, we were advised that generation was controlled from Denmark. So Nick Dekker is quite right to highlight the low number of full-time jobs linked to such projects. Indeed, these will mainly be low-paid posts.

Fifthly, the going rate for community benefit for wind farms elsewhere in Scotland is £2500 per MW installed per year. For Whitelee I understand the three local authorities and the community councils involved have obtained only £1000 per MW installed per year.

Harry Valentine, 32 Inglewood Crescent, Hairmyres, East Kilbride.

The latest figures on fuel poverty make for grim reading. For the third year in a row there has been an increase in the number of households defined as fuel poor, with nearly one in four needing to spend more than 10% of income to keep warm. Of particular concern is that there are now 173,000 households needing to spend more than 20% of income. This "extreme" fuel poverty has rocketed by 45% since last year's survey.

The increases are attributed by the government to rising fuel costs - a searing indictment on the failures of the energy market. But even if fuel prices had remained stable, measures to increase income and improve energy efficiency have had little impact. We are failing on every front to tackle the scourge of fuel poverty.

The UK Government needs to do much more to tackle rising income inequalities. Those on the lowest incomes are also paying the most for their power, through excessive charges on pre-payment meters, which must be curbed. The Scottish Government is conducting a review of the central heating programme. This must lead to a refocusing of the programme on those in most need, and an acknowledgement that it is only one small part of the solution. It is clear some radical steps are needed if we are to have any hope of achieving the now distant hope of eradication of fuel poverty by 2016.

Kaliani Lyle, Chief Executive Officer, Citizens Advice Scotland, 2 Powderhall Road, Edinburgh.