Scottish Government to ‘learn lessons’ over Our Power payments

Power transmission lines run from an electricity pylon in Braintree, U.K., on Wedenesday, Sept. 25, 2013. Britain's business lobby groups said that Labour leader Ed Miliband opposition's proposal to break up the "Big Six" utilities and cap power prices threatens the investment needed to avoid blackouts by the end of the decade. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg
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The Scottish Government will learn from the failure of Our Power as it continues to develop plans for a publicly-owned energy company, cabinet secretary Aileen Campbell has said.

Our Power, the Edinburgh-based energy supplier, announced last week that it had ceased trading, having been set up four years ago.

The not-for-profit company had been given loans totalling £9.5 million by the Scottish Government in a move to try and address fuel poverty.

At the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday, Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton asked whether the Scottish Government could learn lessons from the volatility seen in the market following the collapse of 11 small energy firms over the last year.

Communities and Local Government Secretary Ms Campbell said: “We’ll give that commitment to take any learning that we can from the experience that we’ve gone through with Our Power.

“Of course, we continue to develop proposals that will deliver the ambition of a public energy company and we’re on track to deliver that ambition by the end of this Parliament.

“This is something that was a new attempt to try and find a way to help people who are predominantly social tenants to have access to low-cost power, and it had done so for three-and-a-half years.

“I suppose it reiterates and underlines how disappointing it is that, ultimately, it hasn’t quite succeeded in this case.”

Ms Campbell stated that the Scottish Government were informed of the company’s collection difficulties last month with a formal request submitted on December 21.

Around 70 employees are at risk of redundancy as a result of the closure of Our Power, with the Scottish Government’s Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE) programme made available.

Customers were given reassurances by Ms Campbell, who said that they are protected and would not be cut off as a result of a change of supplier.

She said: “Our immediate response is focused on looking after the interests of the customers and the staff of Our Power.

“The independent regulator Ofgem is now in the process of appointing a new supplier to take over Our Power’s customers.

“Customers are protected and no-one will be cut off as a result of the change in supplier.

“Ofgem advice is for customers to take a current meter reading and wait to be transferred automatically to a new supplier. “

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