Scottish Energy Minister accuses Westminster of (nearly) failing to keep Britain’s lights on

Electricity grid infrastructureCommenting on confirmation from National Grid that it will pay utility companies to bring moth-balled oil- and gas-fired power stations back online to ensure there are now power cuts this winter, Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing last night accused his Westminster counterpart of a failed energy policy.

Ewing said: “Scotland is a substantial and reliable net exporter of electricity, with over a quarter of all Scottish generation exported in 2012 – helping keep the lights on across GB.

But a system which places higher costs on Scottish generators continues to threaten new investment here.”

“The first duty of government energy policy is to ensure security of supply for consumers across the country and a safe margin of supply over demand. The UK Government is clearly failing in this regard.

“The report from National Grid is the latest assessment of its kind to show (rUK) electricity margins decreasing. This conclusion is based on assumptions concerning the availability of electricity generators which senior figures in the industry have questioned, especially the assumptions that 90% of coal and nuclear capacity will continue.

“While we note the additional measures brought in by National Grid and Ofgem to address the narrowing margins, it remains to be seen exactly how much these measures will cost consumers, as they could well lead to increased energy bills.

“The report also provides further evidence that action is needed to address the possible early closure of Longannet due to transmission charges. National Grid and the UK Government need to resolve this quickly.

“Ultimately, Scotland must be given the necessary powers to ensure responsibility and accountability for delivering secure, affordable and clean energy supplies in the future.

“Earlier this month we put forward our proposals to the Smith Commission for these powers to be devolved to Scotland, and we will do everything we can to argue this case as the process moves forward.

“We know from previous reports by the regulator and National Grid that we are facing the tightest margins in a generation, with heightened risk of blackouts. Recent disruptions to large scale coal, gas and nuclear generation show how fragile those margins are.

 “The UK Government’s electricity market reforms have not helped, with delays and uncertainty leading to a number of planned investments being cancelled.”

 

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