Monday, 4 July 2011

PTT (Pre Turbine Tension) has set in big time over the last couple of weeks. It has taken nearly two years to get to this point where our little turbines are due to go up so you would think that was plenty of time to get everything sorted to avoid any last minute rush. Not a hope. This last week has been an endless run of phone calls and emails trying to tie things up so something actually happens next week. We had success early in the week when one of the Local Area Network (LAN) teams arrived to take down the overhead cable which would otherwise have interfered with the turbines and their erection. The poles are still there but we can work round those for the moment. We have already replaced the overhead cable with our own underground one. A long wait for MPAN numbers (identification numbers given to individual meters) meant that we couldn’t apply for the energy supply contracts, one for importing energy, one for exporting and one for meter rental (a surprise one that we only found out about this week) until the last minute and they won’t energise the new supply until all contracts are in place. Then there is the slight hiccup that the new incoming supply is not quite finished yet. There are just a couple of cable joints and a couple of bits of kit to fix in the meter shed and we are then ready to energise. On Thursday we were given an energisation date of 27th July which would mean that the turbines would sit stationary for 3 or 4 weeks until commissioning of the turbines could be rearranged for sometime after that date. However with a bit of re-jiggling the LAN chaps are hoping to get something sorted sooner, possibly next week which would be brilliant. We’ll see. Turbine erection starts on Monday and if all goes well could be complete and generating by the end of Thursday. Can’t really believe it might actually happen.

The rather precarious nature of nursery life has been brought into focus (no pun intended) recently with the demise of the Focus DIY chain and the appearance of the list of horticultural creditors in Hort Week on Friday. I hope those companies listed are making bigger margins than most of the nurseries I know because losses of that size would be devastating. We are feeling quite relieved that we decided a while ago to move away from that market area where volumes may be high but stresses are huge, margins low and eroding, contract security levels are thin and worst of all you feel unappreciated, abused and out of control of your own business. I know as a businessman I am supposed to hardened to that type of pressure but being at work isn’t somewhere I want to abandon my heart and conscience it is where I spend a lot of my life, I want it to be fulfilling and rewarding. OK, I know the money is in short supply and it can be really hard work but given a chance this is still a potentially great industry to be involved in at any level and well worth getting out of bed for.

Eco News

Good weather at the moment for putting up a turbine or three.

Electric consumption up to the end of June 3.5% down on 2010 and 23.07% on 2009. Not such big savings now as we have made the easy savings already. Now it will take investment in new kit to make more savings and first we have to wait until we get through a year or so paying off some of the turbine costs.

Lloyds TSB sent us their glossy farming magazine this week, there is a whole page on renewable energy project funding. There is a handy checklist which I have read through and I can tick all the boxes so you would think funding would be a doddle. The one item they forgot to list was, only apply for financial help if you don’t actually need it. Their support was nonexistent in fact it cost us delay and extra cost when our local manager tried twice to get us help. He is coming on a visit this week so it will be interesting to see what he has to say and how supportive the bank will be over the coming couple of winters when cash-flow will be under huge pressure due to the extra commitment we have had to make ourselves. We have to thank our families for their belief and support in getting the turbine project of the ground rather than the extraordinarily conservative bank approach.

Nature notes

The removal of the overhead cable has meant no perches for the pigeons above the pea field. It makes a surprising difference to our outlook as we are used to seeing loads there when there is a tasty crop below. They are now fighting over the three remaining pole tops which will soon be replaced by three more hazardous perches!

Have a good week, from all at Kirton Farm Nurseries

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