New Scottish green energy commission to put consumers first

Whitelee Windfarm near Glasgow in Scotland.
Whitelee Windfarm near Glasgow in Scotland.
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An independent Energy Consumers Commission is to be launched to give people more influence over the development of Scotland’s energy policies and help vulnerable customers tackle fuel debt.

In the latest policy shift to tackle its declared climate emergency, the Scottish Government yesterday unveiled an Energy Consumers Action Plan (ECAP) in which it pledged to set up the commission.

The ECAP also said the government would introduce legislation to put a new duty on councils to make sure consumer interests are “at the heart of policy and regulatory decision-making processes” as people transition from using fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy.

Developed with an expert advisory group including consumer groups, academics and regulator Ofgem, the ECAP was revealed by the First Minister at the All Energy Conference in Glasgow,

Nicola Sturgeon said the plan would establish a framework to place people’s needs at the heart of Scotland’s energy policy. But there was no mention of a new business case for the government’s planned not-for-profit energy company.

Ms Sturgeon said: “As the energy market continues to evolve, we need to ensure that it is more responsive to people’s needs and interests.

“If we are to influence consumer behaviour in the future we need to build trust – and ensure that the system puts people first. That’s why the Scottish Government is publishing our Energy Consumer Action Plan. It sets out what we will do to ensure better outcomes for consumers, in our energy market.”

Another pledge in the plan is to examine whether newly devolved responsibility for debt advice can help the government support those in fuel debt. The latest figures from Ofgem show that 2.2 per cent of Scottish electricity consumers and 2.5 per cent of gas consumers are in debt, with many having no arrangement to repay their debt.

Ms Sturgeon also said that Scotland could redefine climate leadership means if MSPs back proposals for the country to achieve net-zero emissions by 2045 as recommended by the Committee on Climate Change. But she said the UK government “must play its part” if the target was to be met.