Claim and counter claim over energy post independence

Shadow Energy Secretary Caroline Flint came to Scotland last week and had a run in with Scotland’s Energy Minister Fergus Ewing over the SNP’s energy plans.

Flint argued that English and Welsh households wouldn’t want to continue subsidising renewable energy investment in Scotland post independence. Scottish consumers contributed less than a tenth of the cost of supporting clean energy and they benefited from the UK’s ability to spread costs. The UK had other options to access electricity through existing and current interconnectors.

She told BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “Around a third of the investment in renewables goes to Scotland, but Scottish bill payers contribute less than one tenth of the cost to the overall pot. So, because of our union, because of our partnership there is a sharing of both the risks and the rewards when it comes to energy. But if Scotland decides to exit the UK that changes the relationship.”

In response Fergus Ewing said, “The regulator Ofgem has issued a series of warnings to the UK government that the capacity margin over peak demand and available generation supply has dwindled to an alarming 2% with a real risk of brownouts and blackouts south of the border. In Scotland the margin is much more comfortable. For the foreseeable future – and this is accepted in industry and generation circles – there is a real risk of when we turn the switches on, the lights south of the border will not come on because there will not be electricity there.”

The BBC helpfully asked Euan Phimster, professor of economics at Aberdeen University to analyse the claims and counter claims.

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