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Big Six firm steps into debate

Warning to Sturgeon that energy plan may distort market

Nicola Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon: aiming to keep prices low (photo by Terry Murden)


Energy giant SSE, which trades as Scottish Hydro, has told First Minister Nicola Sturgeon that it is  “not appropriate” for government to supply power on a large scale as it risks distorting the market.

A plan to create a publicly-owned energy company was unveiled by Ms Sturgeon this week at the SNP annual conference.

But in the first signs that it could be unravelling, the Perth-based utility said it could potentially deter private investment.

Its comments are contained in a submission to the Scottish Government’s draft energy strategy which is due out within weeks.

Energy market analysts also cast doubt on a publicly-owned company achieving substantial savings beyond those already achieved by those looking for the lowest possible deals, according to the Telegraph.

Nottingham City Council launched a similar initiative, Robin Hood Energy, and its initial tariffs were more than £200 cheaper than the average offered by the Big Six but still more expensive than the best deals offered by some other smaller suppliers.

SSE asked for more clarity on Ms Sturgeon meant by a “government-owned energy company”, before adding: “This is not appropriate at a larger scale as it risks distorting the market and deterring private investment.”

EDF, another of the ‘Big Six’, suggested in its submission that a government-owned company should focus on helping community energy and “capital intensive” projects get off the ground rather than supplying homes.

A ScottishPower spokesman said it welcomed new entrants to the market.

Dermot Nolan, chief executive of industry regulator Ofgem, said a government-owned firm would get a licence “within months’.

Comment: UK may pay the price for energy battle

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9 Comments to Warning to Sturgeon that energy plan may distort market

  1. Barrie Grieve says:

    So, the energy cartels aren’t happy, boo-hoo. I for one will be switching.

  2. Uisdean domhnallach says:

    I am concerned that a multi national did not listen enough to distinguish what was actually said- a not for profit social enterprise would be set up. Not a government business. We already have a social enterprise – Wheatley group “Our Power” in operation and it may be that this announcement is the next step in the development of that enterprise. I look forward to this new development and do hope it distorts, disrupts the market to make it a fairer market.

  3. GERALD KEOGH says:

    Let’s be realistic these Woe Betide negative opinions are only made to protect all the private investors’ future large profits nothing else. If a public company is duly established to operate in a Not For Profit, it stands to reason that the services, repairs, and general running costs along with possible future expenditure cover being continually used annually, the worst scenario would always be a minimal increase in the users’ bills.

  4. John Dickson says:

    Who owns SSE? Technically it should be the not for profit government enterprise, but guess who sold it off? I for one would welcome the market getting distorted.

  5. John Barbour says:

    Well done to Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP;the Scottish people have been ripped off by these big energy companies for decades. They are now opening their eyes to this and panicking. Power to the people, as they say

  6. Peter Thomson says:

    Distorted? But of course – that’s their whole idea, bringing down the hideously expensive energy prices consumers have to pay to keep shareholders’ dividends as high as possible. Distort away, I say!

  7. boucher caroline says:

    Surely distortion is better than extortion. The need for electricity is a basic need. We all have to heat our homes and we all need to cook etc. Like water, it’s not a luxury so why should some fat cats profit from our basic need? There should be no VAT at all on it either. We are conditioned like sheep so good on Nicola. Tthis may be the start of something big.

  8. Mik Johnstone says:

    And by distort the market what’s really meant is cheaper power that the big companies will not want to match… get on with it, i’ll be signing up to it

  9. Susan smith says:

    Good on you Nicola and the SNP. We’ve been ripped off for decades by the big 6 and others charging huge prices for power unchallenged. It’s gone on long enough. Hope this is set up quickly so I can switch

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