Highlands and Islands SNP MPs Angus MacNeil, Drew Hendry and Ian Blackford met with SSE this week to discuss how they can work together with the electricity provider to put an end to unfair additional charges to consumers.
Residents of the Highlands and Islands are still paying a 2p surcharge on electricity despite the fact that the area continues to have some of the highest fuel poverty figures in the UK.
SSE have previously stated that the additional charges are a result the varying regional costs associated with transporting electricity in different parts of the country. The current pricing structure means that remoter areas always going to face greater costs per customer because of the remoteness of the areas and the diverse terrain. SSE have made several calls on Ofgem to introduce a National Pricing Structure so that there is one standard charge for every customer across the UK.
Following the meeting Angus MacNeil, Member for Na h-Eileanan an Iar and Chair of the Westminster Energy and Climate Change Committee commented:
“My constituency has the highest fuel poverty figures in Scotland. The Scottish average is 27% and this is even lower south of the Border. Yet residents of the Highlands and Islands are still being asked to pay an extra 2p for every unit of electricity used. This is grossly unfair and all electricity consumers should be charged the same price per unit.”
Drew Hendry MP for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey added: “I am encouraged by discussions with SSE and I hope we can work together to rectify this inequity being imposed on the people of the Highlands and Islands. It is ludicrous that we live in an area where we generate electricity through our renewables sector, we pay more than other regions to export that electricity then are asked to pay more to use electricity.”
Ian Blackford MP who represents the largest constituency in terms of land mass, Ross, Skye and Lochaber, said:“In his March Budget the Chancellor stated that he would consult on reducing electricity distribution costs for consumers in the North of Scotland. We need action on this now and I hope by working with SSE we can ensure that the voices of the residents are heard loud and clear in Westminster. There must be fairness in pricing. We need to move to a universal market rather than penalising Highlanders & Islanders with unfair pricing. The Government needs to address this and restore equity.”
An SSE spokesperson added: “SSE has a policy of charging its retail customers according to the underlying costs it takes to supply them, but if we can change the underlying costs, the problem goes away. As this is an issue which affects all suppliers and also impacts other regions in GB, such as Merseyside and north Wales where costs are even higher than the north of Scotland, it requires an industry wide solution. SSE will continue to lead the campaign for ‘national’ pricing to address the issue which we believe is simpler, but more important, fairer.”