Cardiff plugs in

Scots left to ponder as Wales launches energy firm

The Welsh Senedd is backing a taxpayer funded energy firm

Nicola Sturgeon has launched her energy advice agency five years after promising a publicly-owned generator – and as the Welsh government unveiled plans to create a state-backed developer.

Heat & Energy Efficiency Scotland (HEES), a virtual agency, will help consumers cut bills and will co-ordinate the delivery of investment programmes.

The agency is a substitute for the planned energy generator that Ms Sturgeon promised at the 2017 SNP conference when she told delegates: “By the end of this parliament we will set up a publicly owned, not for profit energy company.” It would give customers more choice “and the option of a supplier whose only job is to secure the lowest price for consumers”.

Daily Business revealed in September last year that the government had dropped the plan, and opted instead for the advisory body.

Ms Sturgeon recently said that it would have been difficult to set up a generating company without more legislative and borrowing powers.

However, in Cardiff the Minister for Climate Change, Julie James, announced the creation of a state-owned renewable energy developer “in response to energy insecurity, the cost-of-living crisis and the increasing threats posed by the climate and nature emergencies.”

Lorne Crerar
Lorne Crerar: member of HEES board

Speaking in the Senedd, the Minister said energy profits created in Wales will deliver “greater benefit for people in Wales”.

Surplus funds generated through the new developer will go back into the public purse to be reinvested in improving energy efficiency in homes in Wales and creating good quality, home grown, clean energy jobs.

Ms James added: “We will set up a publicly-owned renewable energy developer. This is a long-term sustainable investment that puts net zero and the communities of Wales at the heart of the transition we need.”

In Scotland, HEES will have an independent strategic board that includes the lawyer Lorne Crerar, Scottish Renewables CEO Claire Mack, and the serial director Graeme Bissett, It has been established to support, advise and oversee the agency.

The Scottish Government has committed at least £1.8 billion to green heat and energy efficiency programmes over the course of this parliament, supporting a vision for more than one million homes and non-domestic buildings to be running on zero direct emissions heating systems by 2030.

Commenting on the launch of HEES, Net Zero & Energy Secretary Michael Matheson said: “Scotland’s homes and buildings account for around a fifth of all our emissions, and we need to take bold, urgent action to ensure we cut these emissions in line with our ambitious climate targets.

“It will take an unprecedented level of leadership and co-ordination to ensure that everyone, from industry to individual households, has access to the right support to deliver this green heat transformation. Heat & Energy Efficiency Scotland will provide this.”

The members of Heat & Energy Efficiency Scotland’s Strategic Board are:

  • Professor Lorne Crerar, chair, Harper Macleod
  • Tricia McAuley, Consumer Expert
  • Vivienne Cockburn, Director, Cockburn Partners
  • Claire Mack, CEO, Scottish Renewables
  • Sally Thomas, CEO, Scottish Federation of Housing Associations
  • Graeme Bissett, External Trustee Citizens Advice Scotland
  • Mike Thornton, CEO, Energy Saving Trust
  • James Fowlie, Director of Place Policy, COSLA  

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