SSE must be held to account over its treatment of Scotland – Brian Wilson

It’s time for Scotland’s politicians to take the gloves off in dealing with Scottish and Southern Energy, writes Brian Wilson.

A different time: the former Hydro Board’s Tummel-Garry hydro-electric scheme, pictured in 1950

Scottish and Southern Energy’s disposal of its retail customers to an outfit called Ovo has produced predictable results.

“Integration” means 2,600 jobs lost, 1,000 of them in Scotland. SSE call centres in Glasgow and Selkirk will close.

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Most customers are in England but a loyal base was in the Highlands where SSE traded on the reputation of the old Hydro Board and the people who work for it.

That was the least of SSE’s considerations when retailing was no longer profitable enough. Instead, it would concentrate on offshore windfarms. And how has it repaid Scotland in that respect?

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Ovo Energy to cut 2,600 jobs after SSE merger

Once again, it seems SSE will send abroad major contracts for the Seagreen project off the Angus coast with a few crumbs for Fife. Former workers at the Arnish yard in Lewis fear it will get nothing.

It is time Scotland’s politicians took the gloves off and reminded SSE that the position of power they hold is not untouchable. At the time of electricity privatisation, both Scottish companies retained vertical integration – generation, distribution and retail – because of the esteem they enjoyed among Scottish consumers. With the emergence of renewable energy, this meant that one tentacle or another of SSE is involved in determining the fate of every project in the north of Scotland. That is an accident of history and has long been unhealthy.

Having got rid of retail, SSE are no longer vertically integrated. They have sold off 1,000 Scottish jobs via Ovo and done nothing to build Scottish manufacturing capacity in renewables.

It is time the pieces of that jigsaw were put together and the overall picture considered on its current merits – not the image of 30 years ago.

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