By the Scottish Government’s standards of profligacy, the £9.6 million which went down the drain along with the failed energy supplier, Our Power, is small change, though one can think of better uses.
However, the Lib Dems’ Willie Rennie is right to call for an inquiry, even with minimal chance of getting one. This was a highly competitive market with no obvious justification other than easy headlines for using public money to back one player.
So what was special about Our Power – described by Mr Rennie’s whistleblower as “a chaotic company, utterly ill-equipped to tackle the task of delivering power to those most in need”?
Another headline-grabber was Ms Sturgeon’s commitment to a publicly owned Scottish energy company by 2021, competing in the same market. I wonder what has happened to that doomed idea and how much has been spent in the process?
In the real world, Our Power is far from alone in going bust. Meanwhile, SSE has rewarded customer loyalty by handing them over, en masse, to an outfit called Ovo. Retailing electricity had become more trouble than it was worth.
This raises another interesting point. Thirty years ago, Scottish Power and SSE were privatised as vertically integrated companies because they were popular with the public – an arrangement unique to Scotland.
When it came to “re-wiring” Scotland for renewables, it handed the two multinational behemoths massive commercial advantage and profits to match.
SSE have now abandoned vertical integration by getting out of retail. Scottish Power may follow. So is this not another reason to look again at the Scottish market and whether it works in the public interest? There is plenty to ‘inquire’ into, if anyone was interested in inquiring.