Nicola Sturgeon has insisted nationalising energy companies to keep bills down during the cost of living crisis should not be ruled out.
The first minister warned poorer families will face “destitution and devastation” if the heating bills price cap is raised again later this week.
She said bringing firms under public ownership to stop a “looming disaster” must be “on the table” and said another increase in energy costs could not go ahead.
It’s feared the price cap could soar by almost £1,600 as winter approaches, with further increases expected by the start of 2023.
Tory leadership hopefuls Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss have been criticised for failing to clarify how they will help families after taking power – Ms Truss promised to reverse national insurance increases and suspend planned green energy levies, but this may not be enough.
Labour leader Keir Starmer has called on the government to stop future energy price rises.
Speaking to BBC Scotland’s Sunday Show, Ms Sturgeon said: “This further increase in people’s energy bills can’t be allowed to go ahead. It is making it impossible for people to provide the basics for themselves and their families, but it is also continuing to fuel
She added: “I also want us to really come together to call on the UK Government to take the action that only they can take.
“There is a looming disaster that is already unfolding but it is going to get worse. This is going to cause destitution and devastation.”
Ms Truss, favourite to succeed Boris Johnson, promised to support the domestic oil and gas industry in Scotland if she becomes prime minister. But the SNP remain intent on phasing out fossil fuels and want to focus on ramping up renewables instead.
The UK Government also backs building new nuclear power plants to bring down energy costs in the long-term, but the Scottish Government opposes this.
A Sunday Times report, meanwhile, has revealed one measure which could be used to help families is paying households not to use their washing machines at peak times.
Under plans devised by the National Grid, consumers would be rewarded for changing the times they use appliances, such as dishwashers.