Energy Policy & Competition
The Government has published the PIU UK Energy
Review and plans a further consultation culminating in a White Paper
in the autumn. UNISON Scotland has published its contribution to
that consultation, Scottish Energy Strategy and the main
conclusions are set out overleaf.
Whilst the energy review takes a long-term view
of energy needs, current energy policy is having a devastating impact
on the Scottish economy. All the main Scottish energy companies
(Scottish & Southern, ScottishPower and British Energy) have
inflicted significant job losses on their workforces in recent years.
Last month Transco announced 3,900 job losses across the UK and
this month ScottishPower have announced a further 600 jobs will
go in their UK Division.
The primary cause of these job losses is government
energy policy as implemented by the energy regulator Ofgem. In particular
the promotion of competition as a panacea for all energy consumers.
The Transco job cuts highlighted the risk to safety
through the loss of experienced staff. In Scotland gas safety has
been thrown into sharp focus through the explosions at Larkhall
and Dundee. Putting overworked and overstressed staff with live
gas is a potentially explosive mix.
The ScottishPower job cuts highlight the shambles
the energy supply market has become. Confused and often vulnerable
customers are chased by a bewildering array of marketing ploys with
significant mis-selling claims. Scottish energy companies are being
forced to compete in a UK market through Ofgem's trading arrangements.
This is a market increasingly dominated by European companies, with
deep pockets, financed through protected home markets.
As a consequence Scottish companies are investing
overseas, primarily in North America. At a time when the Scottish
Executive is seeking to move away from inward investment towards
supporting indigenous companies - it is UK government policy that
is driving investment and jobs out of the country.
UNISON strongly believes that we need an urgent
review of the current regulatory regime and government policy towards
the Scottish energy industry. We are calling on MPs and MSPs to
support such a review.
UNISON Scotland: A Scottish Energy Strategy
UNISON Scotland supports the development of a Scottish
Energy Strategy within the context of the UK review. Scotland has
a distinct energy position within the UK because of its unique integrated
electricity industry, different generation structure and the opportunity
to develop extensive renewable energy resources. In addition there
is a split in responsibility for energy issues between the UK and
UNISON Scotland believes that a Scottish energy
strategy should be based on a planned market for energy combined
with security of supply as well as social, employment and environmental
objectives. The strategy should be based on the following principles:
- A balanced electricity generation policy from a number of sources
to minimise volatility and ensure security of supply.
- For the foreseeable future a continuing role for gas and coal
generation, subject to the introduction (with government research
support) of clean coal technologies.
- Given Scotland's current dependency on nuclear generation there
is no medium term viable alternative to nuclear if Scotland is
to meet its climate change obligations. However, replacing only
the first facility due for closure should reduce our nuclear dependency.
This replacement would also be subject to resolving waste management
- There should be an increase in the targets for generating electricity
from renewable sources supported by government funding. Wind and
wave power appear to be the most viable medium term options and
the necessary transmission infrastructure should be strengthened
to support these developments.
- Scotland should aim to continue to produce a surplus of energy
for export, recognising the importance of the industry in providing
high quality jobs.
- Demand for electricity should be reduced by the promotion of
energy efficiency with new resources for local government and
revised targets including new building standards. This should
be coupled with a better co-ordinated drive against fuel poverty.
Government targets for the growth of Combined Heat and Power should
be increased with appropriate support.
- The privatisation and liberalisation of the energy market will
not deliver a planned energy policy and has not enabled alternative
generation to make a significant new contribution to our energy
requirements. The integrated Scottish electricity industry remains
the most efficient method of delivering Scotland's energy needs.
UNISON Scotland supports a safe, secure and sustainable
energy policy, which contributes to the economic regeneration of
Scotland and eliminates fuel poverty.