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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-19488: Liam McArthur (Orkney Islands)

Scottish Liberal Democrats

Date lodged: 22 October 2018

To ask the Scottish Government what its position is on proposals for national fixed pricing on electricity distribution networks; what discussions it has had with (a) the UK Government and (b) stakeholders in the last 12 months regarding these, and whether it will publish details of the discussions.

Answered by: Paul Wheelhouse 13 November 2018

Electricity network policy and pricing is reserved to the UK Government. While we recognise that network charges in the north of Scotland, despite being reduced as a result of the Hydro Benefit Replacement Scheme, remain higher than those in the south, we have not had any specific discussions about national network pricing. However, we remain closely engaged with the UK Government and industry regulator, Ofgem, on network charging issues – including, for example, Ofgem's Targeted Charging Review, where we have highlighted the importance of charging arrangements that support the continued development and connection of Scotland's vast renewable resources, including on the Scottish islands.

The UK Government also retains the relevant powers in respect of retail energy prices, but has repeatedly failed to provide the competitive and fair market which hard-pressed consumers deserve. We continue to call on UK Government to ensure that the energy market works fairly for all customers alongside short-term price protection.

 

The Scottish Government is working to secure a fair deal for all Scottish energy consumers. In Spring 2019, we will publish a plan that sets out how the Scottish Government, working with partners, will empower people to take advantage of opportunities created by changing markets, smart technologies and energy efficiency measures. The plan will specifically aim to protect the most vulnerable and disengaged people living in Scotland during the low carbon energy transition. We want to ensure that benefits are universal and socially inclusive, regardless of individual circumstance.

 

We also recognise the need to tackle fuel poverty and poor energy efficiency as means of promoting consumer interests. On 27 June this year, we published a draft Fuel Poverty Strategy, alongside the introduction of the Fuel Poverty (Target, Definition & Strategy) (Scotland) Bill to Parliament. These took account of the Scottish Rural Fuel Poverty Task Force report, which examined the full range of issues around fuel poverty in rural areas, including national network charging proposals.