Scotlands Public Service Union









Search this siteWeb helpSite MapUNISON UK site



Utilities News
Click here for previous Bargain Briefs

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 Scottish Parliament.

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 issues.

  • 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.

Energy pages

Top of page