The Scottish government will establish a publicly-owned, not-for-profit energy company to deliver renewable energy to Scottish customers “as close to cost price as possible”.
Scottish National Party (SNP) leader Nicola Sturgeon made the pledge during her speech to conference, in which she said the new energy company would be in place by the end of the current parliament in 2022.
Speaking in Glasgow, Sturgeon said: “The idea, at its heart, is simple. Energy would be bought wholesale or generated here in Scotland – renewable, of course – and sold to customers as close to cost price as possible.
“No shareholders to worry about. No corporate bonuses to consider. It would give people – particularly those on low incomes – more choice and the option of a supplier whose only job is to secure the lowest price for consumers."
The plans, which will be published in a new energy strategy and have been consulted on since January, were originally posed by the SNP in its 2016 manifesto. The party said it would explore the potential to create the government-owned energy company to “help the growth of local and community energy projects”.
Claire Mack, cheif executive of Scottish Renewables, said it could play "a key role" in providing this help, while also having the potential to offer even more in the future.
“A publicly-owned energy company could play an important part in adding value to existing support schemes and addressing specific market failures. This could, for example, include being a ‘one-stop-shop’ or gateway to accessing public funds, helping communities navigate this often complex and confusing landscape," she said.
“It could also be home to our proposed Scottish Renewable Energy Bond, helping accelerate the deployment of community renewable energy projects across Scotland by improving access to finance and mobilising existing public support for the sector.”
The SNP's plans for a publicly-owned energy company were not present in its 2017 snap election manifesto, despite having been included in January’s energy strategy consultation.
Scottish Labour instead picked up the policy by stating it would invest in a “new publicly owned energy provision”, however the SNP has now seemingly reinstated the plans, stating Sturgeon’s pledge was fulfilling the party’s manifesto commitment to deliver the energy company “for the collective good”.
WWF Scotland recently analysed wind power data provided by WeatherEnergy and found that the technology generated the equivalent of 206% of Scotland’s entire electricity needs on 2 October, suggesting little new generation would be needed to service the new company in the immediate term.