Increasing smart meter coverage within rural Scotland has been announced as part of their Government’s strategy to tackle the energy crisis.
The announcement was made at an energy summit that saw Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, convene with energy companies and advice organisations.
During the virtual summit, further actions to support consumers and businesses through the Winter were agreed upon. Stakeholders also discussed this week’s reversals to UK Government measures set out since the previous summit in August, and agreed longer-term certainty is urgently needed ahead of the anticipated energy price cap increase, currently due in April.
The following themes were identified for the Scottish Government, energy suppliers, advice organisations and business groups to explore in more detail moving forward:
- The Scottish Government will work with Energy UK and other organisations to increase smart meter coverage in Scotland, with a particular focus on rural areas
- The Scottish Government will work with the business sector to explore how businesses can be supported with energy costs, within devolved powers
- Maximum coordination of energy efficiency information and advice services to all consumers will be placed as a priority
- Partners will share data with the Scottish Government to help inform calls upon the UK Government, to provide clarity on continued support for domestic and non-domestic consumers as soon as possible
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on the results of the summit and the current energy crisis: “The curtailing of the Energy Price Guarantee by the Chancellor of the Exchequer earlier this week has eradicated what meagre certainty people and businesses had over their bills and finances in the short to medium-term. Even the current cap of £2,500 ($2,820) until April – while better than a rise to £3,500 ($3,948) – is still a very significant increase for households who are already struggling to pay their bills and heat their homes. Without further mitigation the increase to £2,500 under the Energy Price Guarantee will see an additional 150,000 households in extreme fuel poverty.
“The deficiencies in the UK Government’s package mean we are still in an emergency situation. The economic outlook has been made far worse by other aspects of the mini-budget – most of which have now had to be reversed entirely.
“The Scottish Government is working hard within its limited powers and finite budget to support people, business, public services and the economy. Part of that work will involve ongoing engagement with energy companies and advice organisations throughout the Winter to see how, individually and collectively, we can alleviate the huge challenges people are facing as well as signposting existing schemes and support that is available.
“It is clear however that more substantial reform of the energy market is needed to address the issue in the long term, and the power to do so lies with the UK Government.”