I had a meeting with Lord Hunt the UK energy minister this morning in London. Most of UNISON members in Scotland are covered by the Scottish Parliament so we have less contact with UK ministers. The exception is energy, although there are also significant devolved responsibilities.
It was a useful meeting and a pleasure to meet a UK minister who had a good grasp of Scottish issues. We had a general discussion on energy policy including the importance of clean coal technologies (CSS) to Scotland and the need for a planned and balanced energy policy.
Much of the meeting focussed on our concerns over energy regulation including the recent distribution price review and Ofgem’s plans for locational charging and transmission loss. Put simply we believe that energy transmission charges should operate on the postage stamp principle i.e. you pay the same wherever the electricity is generated. Energy has traditionally been an important Scottish export and could be even more significant if the renewable potential is fully exploited. Ofgem’s plans discriminate against Scotland and could strangle the renewable energy industry at birth.
There are encouraging signs that the UK government recognises that the market alone will not deliver the certainty needed for new energy generation including CCS, nuclear and renewables. In an interview with The Times yesterday, Ed Miliband signposted this welcome change of direction.
This is a position we have advocated for many years (see UNISON Scotland energy strategy). Not quite the planned energy policy we would want, but an important step in the right direction.