Nicola Sturgeon ‘lives in cuckoo country’, says Craig Hoy
Households across the UK will find out in the coming weeks how much their gas bills are likely to rise over the coming year. The energy regulator is due to announce the new energy price cap, the maximum amount suppliers can charge in Britain. It is widely expected to rise sharply as global energy sales have soared.
In Scotland, a poll by YouGov for Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) suggests that Scots are more than aware of the pressure they may soon come under.
The poll found that 48% are “fairly worried” about their gas and electricity bills becoming less affordable, with 22% describing themselves as “very worried”.
In 2017, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon sought to ease the country’s concerns after announcing that Scotland would introduce a brand new state-owned energy company that would keep prices low, as close to wholesale as possible.
She also claimed it would ‘of course’ use ‘renewable energy’, meaning rising gas or oil prices would not affect Scots using this supplier.
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Energy prices: They should soar in the coming weeks
Speaking at the Scottish National Party (SNP) conference in 2017, she said: “In our manifesto last year, we also committed to exploring the option of a new public energy company.
“The idea at its heart is simple ‘energy would be bought in bulk or produced here in Scotland, renewable, of course, and sold to customers as close to cost price as possible.
“No shareholders to worry about, no company bonuses to consider.
“It would give people, especially those on low incomes, more choice and the option of a supplier whose only job is to guarantee the lowest price for consumers.
“Conference, we will present more details when we release our new energy strategy, but I am delighted to announce today that by the end of this Parliament, we will establish a public energy company not for profit.
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Scotland: Almost half of Scots are ‘fairly worried’ about their energy bills
This term of the Scottish Parliament ended in May 2021, with no public energy companies in sight.
Scots – especially those on lower incomes – now look set to be seriously hit by rising prices.
At the time of the announcement, energy market firm Schneider Electric told the BBC that independent suppliers had reduced the dominance of the Big Six, but could not always beat them on price due to operation of the wholesale market.
They said independent providers did well when the wholesale market fell because they tracked the market more closely and their pricing was more responsive – but when wholesale markets rose they did less well and had to raise their prices.
According to the SNP’s 2021 manifesto, Ms Sturgeon’s plans for the energy company have not been abandoned.
Rather, they were “halted” during the coronavirus pandemic, with efforts “refocused” on a public energy agency.
The agency, he said, will “coordinate and expedite” the delivery of energy efficiency and heating works, as well as “informing and educating” the public about the changes needed.
Over the past year, SNP campaigners have called on the Prime Minister to relaunch the plans and people have taken to social media to express their disappointment at the Prime Minister’s broken promise.
Twitter user @HebrideanUK wrote: “The next time Nicola Sturgeon or any SNP politician complains about rising energy costs, remind them of this pledge announced in 2017.
“Rising gas or oil prices wouldn’t matter, because it was going to be ‘renewable of course’.
“SNPs are great for ads, c*** for delivery.”
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@Cameron1701 added: “More fantasy spoken with no idea of implementation.”
Ken Patrick accused Ms Sturgeon of ‘broken promises’ while @MarkMar2z just put on a series of clown emojis.
@Bubtok simply wrote: “What? Another broken promise? »
Energy Secretary Michael Matheson, when asked if the Scottish government had completely abandoned its commitment, said the party “did not anticipate” a great need for decarbonisation in 2017.
This is despite the fact that the Scottish government already set out a plan for “decarbonisation” of heat in 2015, and that the UK government in 2017 published action plans for “industrial decarbonisation and energy efficiency”.
Her request also comes despite the fact that Ms Sturgeon insisted in her speech that the public energy company would use renewable energy.
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Yet Mr Matheson told the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland: ‘The reality is that a public energy company will not solve the very serious systemic problems in the UK energy grid and the UK energy system that the government British failed to resolve for many decades.
“There has been a significant shift both in the market and in what we now need to do to meet our climate change goals.”
Now, rather than a public company, Mr Matheson said the Scottish government hoped to move to a model based on district heating – taking thermal energy from a number of different sources and passing it to consumers through pipes isolated.
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He claimed it would help achieve the goal of decarbonizing the heating of more than one million homes and 50,000 businesses.
It is unclear when the Scottish Government plans to act on this.
This month, the Scottish government urged Westminster to take urgent action to cut energy costs, including a cut in VAT.
Scottish ministers, in a letter, said there should be targeted support for people on low incomes.