Nicola Sturgeon defied warning by Big Six energy firm over state competitor plan

EDF, another of the ‘Big Six’, suggested in its submission that a government-owned company should focus on helping community energy and “capital intensive” projects get off the ground rather than supplying homes.

David Hunter, director of market studies at the energy market firm Schneider Electric, told BBC Scotland people who were being charged too much were generally those who had not switched suppliers and were on the most expensive standard variable tariff.

He suggested customers who had moved were unlikely to save much more as profit margins on competitive deals are “relatively low.”

Mr Hunter also said that independent suppliers had reduced the dominance of the Big Six suppliers over recent years but they could not always beat them on price because of the way the wholesale market worked.

A ScottishPower spokesman said: “We welcome new entrants in to this vibrant market. We offer competitive prices and we have worked hard to get most of our customers on to fixed price deals, well ahead of any of the other major suppliers.”

Dermot Nolan, chief executive of industry regulator Ofgem, welcomed “any form of potential new entry” into the market and predicted a government-owned firm would get a licence quickly.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The fact that 31 per cent of Scottish households were in fuel poverty in 2015, largely due to rising fuel prices, shows that the energy market is failing many households.

“The views given under the consultation will continue to feed in to the development of our new energy strategy and our plans for a new energy company. The responses and independent analysis report will be published in due course.”

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