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SNP pitches price cap, puts ‘punitive’ transmission charges in its crosshairs

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SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon launching the party's 2017 manifesto.

The Scottish National Party (SNP) has followed the Conservative and Labour Party manifestos with a pledge to cap energy prices in its bid to win seats in next week’s general election.

The party published its manifesto yesterday (30 May) with a promise to put in place an energy price cap on standard variable tariffs to ensure “a fair deal for customers and energy suppliers”.

The party went further by saying it would introduce a new duty on energy companies to set out a clear timetable to move customer off prepayment meters. It would also prioritise the roll-out of smart meters on the fuel poor and implementing the recommendations of the Competition and Markets Authority to reduce costs for households.

However, the SNP has failed to address the same report’s findings for business energy customers, with SMEs found to have been overcharged for their gas and electricity by as much as £280 million a year between 2007 and 2014.

It would instead seek to tackle the costs associated with “the UK’s punitive transmission charging regime” which the SNP claims forces energy generators in Scotland to pay huge fees to connect to the electricity grid while power stations in the south of England receive subsidies.

Echoing much of the tone of the 48 page manifesto, the SNP says it will “continue to demand the reform” of the current regime, which it says symbolises Westminster’s “repeated failure to deliver energy policies which meet Scotland’s needs”.

The document does not clarify what a new charging regime would look like, or mention the ongoing work being conducted by Ofgem and the National Grid to review current charging arrangements.

In related policy the SNP has also promised to continue its leading work in the UK on climate change, having met its emissions targets for 2020 six years early. The leading party in Scotland will seek to ensure low cost green energy schemes get long term certainty and counteract what it calls “the UK government’s ideologically-driven cuts to support for renewables”.

This will centre on building a case for the return of onshore wind to the list of supported technologies as the lowest cost renewable energy technology. SNP MPs would also demand increased focus on offshore wind, tidal energy and wave power, omitting solar from its manifesto in the same way both Labour and the Conservatives did.

The party has also promised to build a regulatory environment which supports investment in new energy storage schemes, including pumped hydro and batteries.

Despite this support for renewable energy technologies, the SNP would continue to press the UK government on support for late life oil and gas assets, as proposed in the most recent Budget statement.

However, Scottish MPs would also urge the UK government to provide incentives for oil and gas companies diversifying into renewables.

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