The responsibly of energy firms

Energy firms must act responsibly and accountably, says Alistair Phillips-Davies

SSE Being Responsible area on its website designed to be open about impact of its actions. Picture: PA

Decent companies abide by the law and don’t impact negatively on where they operate. Responsible companies should go beyond that and this is especially true for energy firms.

Delivering energy to people’s homes and businesses carries a huge responsibility. It’s easy for companies to claim they are responsible, but how can they be held to account?

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That’s why SSE last week published its first ever economic impact report as well as creating a new “Being Responsible” area on its website designed to be open about impact.

We’ve published information about the things we are doing that make a positive impact and be transparent about the negative impacts our operations might have and what we are doing to reduce these.

I have long known that SSE makes an important contribution to the UK and Irish economies – but until recently, we have never asked how much. So we asked PwC, a respected professional services firm, to undertake an economic impact study.

That report tells us that SSE boosted the UK economy by £9.1 billion in 2012-13. Staging the Olympic Games in the summer of 2012 contributed £9.9bn to the UK economy, so SSE made an Olympic-sized contribution in just one year.

We now know that SSE activities support 112,000 jobs in the UK. That means for every person directly employed by SSE a further 4.8 jobs in the wider economy are supported.

The PwC report also shows that SSE made a total tax contribution of £536 million in 2012-13. Interestingly, the lion’s share of this went to local authorities through business rates, directly funding local services across the UK.

A decent company ensures that negative environmental impacts are minimised and mitigated, but a truly responsible company seeks to bring about positive impacts too. So we are proud to be the UK’s largest producer of renewable energy.

At SSE we know our impacts are not simply about what we do, it matters how we do it too. We aim to be responsible in all that we do – and being transparent means we are serious about it. 

• Alistair Phillips-Davies is chief executive of SSE