Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands
A carbon neutral Scotland supports a better Scotland and an investment in our future society, environment and economy for Scotland, Europe and the World. It is essential that we act individually, locally, nationally and globally to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions. However, while the provision of energy to Scotland’s domestic consumers is essential to modern living, the day-to-day working of the energy system is not understood by everyone. Yet, as citizens and consumers, we are expected to play an increasingly important role in shaping our future energy systems.
It is for this reason that we are committed to changing the way consumer issues are viewed and tackled in Scotland. This is essential because our ability to meet our energy and climate change targets depends on Scottish consumer voices being heard loud and clear – and crucially, being integrated into regulatory and policy decision-making at an early stage.
Published in December 2017, Scotland’s Energy Strategy set out the Scottish Government’s vision for a flourishing, competitive local and national energy sector, delivering secure, affordable clean energy for Scotland’s households, communities and businesses. At the heart of the Strategy is a commitment to “promote consumer engagement and protect consumers from excessive or avoidable costs, prevent new forms of social exclusion and promote the benefits of smarter domestic energy applications and systems”. No-one should be left behind, and this embodies the spirit of this action plan.
In areas that remain reserved to the UK Government, such as energy market regulation, distribution networks and consumer protection, we will continue to use our advocacy and advice powers to ensure the consumer voice is heard. We have long called on the energy industry to do more for Scottish consumers, including through Energy Summits held in 2016 and 2018. We will continue to advocate for much-needed reforms – like ensuring that all consumers benefit from smart meters, regardless of geography or circumstance.
However, we cannot wait for others to deliver change. Although we do not have the powers to take all the action that is required, this does not stop us from taking steps to improve the lives of consumers in Scotland. We are committed to using our existing devolved powers around consumer advocacy, heat policy and the design of energy efficiency schemes to showcase a consumer focused approach to energy policy that lets people have a real say about the issues that affect them.
We are also delivering on our commitment to create Consumer Scotland, an independent body to represent the interests of consumers in Scotland. Alongside this, part of our intent behind the ambition of a public energy company is to help rebuild consumer trust in the energy market.
I am proud to set out the Scottish Government’s vision and plan to build a future energy system that is shaped by and for the people of Scotland. This action plan establishes a framework to place consumer considerations at the heart of Scotland’s energy policy – from local energy to energy efficiency and electric vehicles– and to influence change across Great Britain.
These are ambitious commitments that the Scottish Government cannot achieve in isolation. In recognition, this action plan was developed collaboratively with an expert advisory group. We are extremely grateful for the time and dedication shown by each member of the group in supporting this work. I look forward to working with stakeholders across Scotland to make this action plan a success.