Scottish Government drops plans for national energy company
A pledge to set up a state-owned energy company has been dropped by the Scottish Government in favour of a “new dedicated national public energy agency”.
First unveiled by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon during the Scottish National Party’s 2017 conference, the company would have sold energy to customers at “as close to cost price as possible”. The not-for-profit company would buy its energy on the wholesale market or generate it in Scotland – from renewable sources.
Earlier this summer, Scottish Greens co-leader and now government minister Lorna Slater, criticised Ms Sturgeon for not moving fast enough on the plan.
The First Minister admitted to MSPs in June that her government had “not done well enough” in generating energy and harnessing the economic benefits.
Last weekend, shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray said it is “astonishing” that the new SNP-Green partnership made no mention of the energy company plan in a 50-page joint policy statement.
Labour, he said, has been calling for the proposed company to move beyond the paper stage so that it can start supporting the development of renewable energy in Scotland.
“Nicola Sturgeon and her Green partners must live up to their promises and deliver a new public energy company,” Mr Murray added.
However, in an answer to a parliamentary question from Scottish Labour’s net zero, energy and transport spokesperson Monica Lennon, net zero secretary Michael Matheson confirmed that “work on a planned public energy company was halted during the pandemic”, adding that “ministers will now focus government efforts” on the new public energy agency.
This will coordinate and accelerate delivery of heat and energy efficiency work, inform and educate the public on the changes required, provide expert advice to national and local government, and work with public, private and third sector partners to deliver this transformative national project,” he added.
The Programme for Government unveiled this week a national public energy agency will “harness the potential of decarbonisation at scale and provide leadership”.
It stated: “We will work to have a virtual agency established within the coming year and a dedicated physical agency by September 2025, with a remit to accelerate transformational change in how we heat and use energy in homes and buildings, aid public understanding and awareness, and coordinate delivery of investment.”
Ms Lennon has since said: “This embarrassing downgrade lays bare the complete lack of ambition at the heart of this government.
“There is always a gulf between what the SNP promise and what they deliver, but even by their standards this is galling.
“This confirms once and for all how little influence the Greens really have in government – and how quickly they’ve abandoned their principles.
“A real public energy company has the potential to transform energy production in Scotland and drive forward the renewable revolution we urgently need. Instead it seems we’re about to be landed with yet another toothless government body.
“This is just not good enough. The Greens and the SNP must drop these watered-down plans and commit to delivering the promised national energy company in full.”