Brian Wilson: The announcement of a publicly-owned Scottish Energy Company to take on the fat-cats and send prices tumbling served its immediate, and perhaps only, purpose – i.e. it had last October’s SNP conference whooping and cheering. Now, in the cooler light of day, the Scottish Government has fed £315,000 into the ample coffers of EY to tell them what less expensive sources of information could have advised many months ago – that this is a lot more “challenging” than it sounds. The word “challenging” crops up a lot in the EY report. It is a real “Yes, Minister” turn of phrase which translates roughly as: “This is really not a good idea but that is not what we are being paid to tell you. So just be careful and don’t blame us”. As work by Strathclyde University’s Energy Policy Centre has shown, energy efficiency measures are likely to be more effective in fighting fuel poverty than cheaper tariffs, particularly when many who could benefit from existing competition options resolutely decline to do so. You don’t need a Scottish Energy Company to do more about fuel poverty. The EY report offers a few potential “retreat options”. These include the Scottish Government piggy-backing on an existing supplier but branding it as the Scottish Energy Company – the so-called “white label” approach, which would inevitably be seen by competitors as an unfair advantage to the anointed partner. So does all of this mean that nothing should be done? Of course not; it’s just that by going for the headline about a “publicly-owned Scottish Energy Company” the Scottish Government is approaching the issue from the wrong direction and, as it happens, one which ignores the distinctively Scottish aspects of the market.
Energy Voice 30th April 2018 read more »