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Scottish government eyes launch of own energy company

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The Scottish government has begun to explore the possibility of launching its own energy supply company, following in the tracks of the UK councils behind Bristol Energy and Robin Hood Energy.

Holyrood yesterday published its draft energy strategy, outlining potential mechanisms and frameworks that could be launched in order to help Scotland transition to a low carbon economy by 2050.

Amidst proposals for greater support of renewables and energy efficiency, one of the more interesting points in the strategy was the potential launch of a government-owned energy company (GOEC) designed to “address specific market failure”.

The strategy document details how any GOEC could take on a number of roles, including the delivery and support of both existing and new schemes, work towards new energy infrastructure projects such as district heating, coordinate energy efficiency procurement and act as a not-for-profit energy supplier.

The consultation – which remains open until 30 May 2017 – requests views from industry stakeholders on what the government could achieve through the establishment of a GOEC and how it could address specific market failures.

Any government-backed energy utility would follow on from various councils in the UK which have launched their own utilities and energy service companies (ESCOs) over the last two years, identifying them as a sound investment for public money and having the potential to help alleviate fuel poverty.

The Nottingham and Bristol entities – dubbed Robin Hood Energy and Bristol Energy respectively – have been particularly successful, amassing nearly 100,000 customers between them. Profits from the suppliers are reinvested into the local areas and help support further deployment of renewable and energy efficiency technologies.

Launching the strategy yesterday, business, innovation and energy minister Paul Wheelhouse said that safe, reliable and affordable energy “underpins the continued growth of the Scottish economy”.

“Achieving our vision is also crucial to efforts to tackle fuel poverty and to preventing the damaging effects of climate change, as part of the global community’s fight to limit global temperature increases to 2°C or less,” he said. 

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