Call for energy price freeze ahead of Nicola Sturgeon emergency energy summit

The only way Scotland can fend off threats to energy customers this winter is to implement a price freeze, according to the chief executive of Scottish Power.

The call came as Nicola Sturgeon chaired a special summit on Tuesday to discuss what could be done to mitigate the impact of soaring energy bills.

Ms Sturgeon was bringing together representatives from both power companies and consumer groups to consider what support could be provided amid warnings the average amount UK households pay for their gas and electricity could reach £6,000 next year.

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The First Minister had already warned many families would face “destitution and devastation” if energy prices increased again in October.

Keith Anderson, Chief Executive, ScottishPower

Speaking to BBC Good Morning Scotland, Keith Anderson, chief executive of Scottish Power, said: “The prices we are seeing and the pressure that will put on average household or any household ... is going to be quite horrific.”

A few months ago, Mr Anderson brought forward a proposal to freeze the price of energy and he said this was being discussed with Ms Sturgeon.

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He said: “It’s of the scale of the pandemic and we need national action. I think the best thing to do now is freeze the price at its current level and then all the cost above that would go into a fund and we would then look at how does that fund get repaid over the next 15 to 20 years.

“I think that’s the only way we can protect customers and help them get through this winter.”

The problem is a “national crisis” that needs helps from both the UK and Scottish governments, according to Mr Anderson.

He warned if a price freeze was introduced now for Scottish customers, to repay it will be double the Scottish budget of £50 billion.

The tax freeze would mean customers would still have to pay the full price for the gas eventually, but there would be discussions with the UK Government how that gets repaid – whether it was spread out through bills or taxation or other options.

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Mr Anderson said this option would “buy time”, help people now and also help with handling and controlling inflation.

He said the ultimate route to get out of the energy problem was “to stop using gas” and seek alternatives.

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