IN launching its report arguing for a greater say in UK energy policy, the Scottish Government claims that this would contribute to security of supply, that the "lower marginal cost" of wind will ensure reliability and affordability and that "subsidies" for new nuclear dwarf those for wind and marine ("SNP:

give us big say on energy or lights will go out", The Herald, April 7). It is worrying enough that any govern­ment should be making such claims but even more so if it believes them.

For years we have been installing wind turbines throughout the country and yet, this morning as I write, the actual output from all of these to the grid is only 1900MW whilst the demand is 42000MW, a rather small contribution from wind to keeping the lights on.

It would be bad enough if all these renewables were cost-effective but the actual cost to the consumer from wind energy, taking into account the subsidies, the high cost of reinforcing the grid to transport the energy to where it is needed as well as providing back-up from thermal stations for when the wind does not blow (or blows too strongly) is some £200/MWhr, or almost four times the current average cost of bulk energy on the grid. All of the costs for wind energy (not just the marginal cost) have to be recovered from the consumer directly through his electricity bills but he also has to pay the higher costs of goods and services from industry and commerce, which account for some two-thirds of electricity use and which ultimately recover their costs in their selling prices.

As to subsidies for new nuclear, Hunterston and Torness were built because they offered the lowest-cost electricity and there is little doubt that the same is true for nuclear today. The price agreed by the UK Government with EDF for the nuclear station at Hinckley is £92/MWhr, which tallies with the quoted cost for the similar station now under construction in France. As such there is no element of subsidy, even though this is the first of a kind for the UK and the overall cost to the consumer is well below the total costs of wind or (should it ever materialise) tidal energy.

Sir Donald Miller,

Chairman, Scottish Power, 1982-92,

Puldohran, Gryffe Road,