Following a lively introduction by Jackson Carlaw MSP, the Chief Executive of Energy UK Angela Knight addressed assembled guests on the vital role energy plays in the economy, energy pricing, the important contribution made by the Scottish renewables industry, as well as highlighting the Home Heat Helpline which offers free help and advice on paying energy bills and keeping warm.
Following her speech, Angela Knight took questions from the floor, including from MSPs Jean Urquhart, Joan McAlpine and Jamie McGrigor on topics ranging from fracking, nuclear power, electricity market reform and consumer priorities.
When asked by Jean Urquhart MSP (Highlands & Islands) about Energy UK’s position on fracking, Knight ultimately stressed the importance of further geographical research in determining the long-term viability and extent of fracking.
When asked by Urquhart about Energy UK’s position on nuclear power, Knight outlined the nature of Energy UK’s membership, which she said included energy companies with interest in many types of power, including renewables, coal, hydro, and nuclear.
Diplomatically, she reminded guests that there exists varying attitudes throughout the UK on different energy sources – for example, in one area, nuclear may be favoured by constituents, and, in a neighbouring area, renewables may be preferred. Knight stressed that decisions on the type of energy used throughout the UK must be made in discussion with local people but that many decisions would prove difficult to make.
Knight touched upon the issue of electricity market reform when asked a related question by Joan McAlpine MSP (South of Scotland).
When asked by Jamie McGrigor MSP (Highlands & Islands) if, ultimately, the priority of the energy industry was to ensure that households had permanent and unbroken access to electricity, Knight agreed.. She qualified her concurrence by elaborating on many other priorities of the energy industry, such as affordability and security, but ultimately confirmed that consumer access to heating and lighting was of utmost importance.
The reception provided a great opportunity for those involved in the energy industry and other relevant stakeholders to network and solicit the views of key parliamentarians in an informal setting.
Guests included MSPs, representatives from the Scottish Government, local government, renewables sector, the main six energy suppliers, as well as stakeholders from charities and advice groups with an interest in energy pricing, fuel poverty and energy efficiency.