Critics of the plan (to set up a Scottish Energy Company) have raised some practical objections that Ms Sturgeon’s civil servants will have to address. In particular, a recent Thunderer column in The Times by Jack Ponton, professor of engineering at the University of Edinburgh, pointed out the difficulty in ensuring that all the new company’s energy comes from sustainable sources, particularly when two thirds of domestic energy consumption is gas. Fair point, and Ms Sturgeon will have to ensure there is no clash between the twin aims of providing energy that is both cheap and green. The most common criticism is that a national energy company would “disrupt” the existing energy market. Well, duh. That is kind of the point. Those who argue against disruption usually fall into one of two categories: those whose profits and vested interests are threatened by any such disruption; and those who believe i n the sanctity of markets with the ardour of a pilgrim standing before a weeping statue of St Matthew, the patron saint of stockbrokers. Disrupting markets is what the best businesses do. Of course, having a government at her disposal might give the first minister something of an advantage over rival companies through access to cheap credit, for example. If, through buying wholesale and eliminating the need for shareholder dividends, Ms Sturgeon can offer electricity at a cheaper rate, she could be the Uber of electricity.
Times 25th Oct 2017 read more »