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Overstated UK Wind Power Forecasts Add Millions of Pounds to Energy Bills

Some wind farm operators in the UK have been overestimating forecasts of the power they would generate, leading to millions of British pounds added to consumer energy bills each year—a behavior slammed by a senior UK energy department official.

Reporters Todd Gillespie and Gavin Finch led a Bloomberg investigation which found earlier this week that some wind farm operators have been overstating how much electricity they would produce. This has been raising the payments they receive to turn off power output if too much wind generation on very windy days risks overloading the grid.

On such occasions, the grid operator typically pays some wind power operators to generate less electricity—payments that add to energy bills.

With some overstated forecasts of how much wind some farms would generate, the operators are paid more to curtail more output. But, due to the overstated forecasts, they would have not produced that much electricity anyway, according to the Bloomberg investigation and interviews with anonymous power traders, market experts, and academics.

“In effect, they said, the grid has paid some wind farms not to generate power that they wouldn’t have produced anyway,” Bloomberg’s investigative reporters wrote.

Asked to comment on the alleged controversial overstatement of forecasts of wind power generation, Andrew Bowie, the UK’s Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the UK Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, told Bloomberg,

“It is completely unacceptable to overcharge for people’s bills.”
“British energy generators must operate at the highest standards,” Bowie said.

On Thursday, the UK’s energy regulator, Ofgem said it was opening a probe into the claims that wind power operators are overestimating their power output.

“Ofgem’s wholesale markets oversight team are investigating the alleged behavior,” a spokesman told Bloomberg in an email.

The regulator will continue to work “to protect market integrity and consumers,” the spokesman added, noting that Ofgem had also asked National Grid to investigate the issue, too.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for