Scotland’s Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon promised to cut her country’s energy bills by 5% if it becomes independent.
Speaking at the Scottish National Party conference in Perth yesterday, she criticised the “disjointed” way energy efficiency measures are funded and said responsibility for them should be transferred from energy companies to the Scottish Government.
Westminster currently dictates energy policy and its ECO scheme – which requires suppliers to put energy saving measures in vulnerable or fuel poor homes – is paid for through levies on bills.
Nicola Sturgeon said: “Right now, the Scottish Government invests around £80m a year on energy efficiency schemes while a further £120m comes from a scheme designed in Westminster.
“It is a disjointed approach, it doesn’t take account of Scottish priorities and it’s not as efficient as it could be. Tackling fuel poverty is one area where we could do so much better with the powers of independence.”
She suggested the policy shake-up would slice a chunk out of energy bills: “We estimate that it will cut energy bills by around 5% – or £70 a year. Not a short term measure – but a real and lasting cut in Scottish energy bills.”
Direct government funding for fuel poverty schemes would tot up to at least £200 million per year, she said.
A spokesperson for Nicola Sturgeon told ELN this would be funded through “central taxation” and the policy would be on an “annual basis for some years”.
The SNP’s website has a countdown to a referendum on independence ticking away in days, hours, minutes and seconds. Currently the ticker stands at 333 days.
Earlier at the SNP conference her colleague Fergus Ewing, the Scottish Energy Minister, said the nation’s renewable energy sources will help to keep energy bills lower in future.
He said: “By displacing electricity generated by fossil fuels which are vulnerable to price rises on international markets, renewables will keep bills lower than would otherwise be the case – £166 a year lower according to analysis conducted by the DECC earlier this year.”
The minister added: “With both Ofgem and National Grid warning about the increased risk of blackouts Scotland’s record levels of renewables generation are increasingly important to keeping the lights on across these islands.”