Perth-based utility giant Scottish & Southern Energy (SSE) has Lord Smith’s Devolution Commission that it prefers a single UK energy market to prevail, but that it would support devolution of powers to combat fuel poverty and improve energy efficiency to Holyrood from Westminster.
SSE, which supports 17,000 jobs in Scotland and 100,000 across the UK, firmly supports the interconnection and integration of the electricity and gas systems and markets across Scotland, England and Wales as it brings many important benefits for energy consumers north and south of the border.
These benefits include, amongst other things, greater security of supply; increased competition in both the generation and supply markets; the ability to pool resources to meet the need to modernise the production of electricity and the infrastructure to support it; and working together to meet the UK’s legally-binding renewables and climate change targets.
Its submission to the Smith Commission states: “In fact, SSE supports the further harmonisation of energy systems and markets to further strengthen security of supply and achieve efficient use of energy resources for the benefit of customers, in line with the direction of travel within the European Union.
“We strongly believe the following foundations of the single GB energy market must be retained to maintain the integrity of the market comprising a single regulator, a single System Operator; a single Transmission system; and a single trading market.
“We also believe there is a strong case for devolving further powers to the Scottish Parliament that would enable a more bespoke approach to achieving energy efficiency and tackling fuel poverty in Scotland.
“The devolution of powers relating to energy efficiency and the Warm Home Discount would enable Holyrood to set and fulfil its own fuel poverty strategy, responsive to particular Scottish circumstances.
“The main principle underpinning this proposal is to allow devolved administrations the flexibility to pursue social policy in the most appropriate way to meet the needs of its citizens.
“While fuel poverty is a devolved matter in principle, the key powers behind the main policies designed to help tackle this are currently reserved to Westminster: namely the Warm Home Discount and the Energy Company Obligation.
“The fuel poverty challenge facing Scotland is not fundamentally different to that of the rest of GB, but there are differences which a devolved administration could better address in its design of schemes. Scottish-specific challenges, such as the nature and condition of housing stock and the difference in the mix of fuels used for heating, could benefit from a Scottish-specific set of solutions.
“By devolving energy efficiency to the Scottish Parliament, the Scottish Government could use the opportunity to fundamentally redesign how household energy efficiency policies are funded and delivered in Scotland. This would also complement existing devolved powers relating to housing.”