Privatised electricity not fit for purpose

Willie Docherty
Willie Docherty

#uNDC16 UNISON will step up the campaign to bring the energy industry back into public ownership and urge the Labour Party to make it one its key commitments.

Willie Docherty, moving the Scottish Electricity motion, told delegates: “Since 1979 successive UK governments have pursued marketisation and privatisation of the energy sector with potentially disastrous consequences.

“Short-term profit considerations and private appropriation of energy resources have prevailed over the long view and a more general public interest.”

Long-term infrastructural issues are not being addressed, current policies produce massive inequalities and wealthy elites reap large dividends while fuel poverty has increased dramatically in the past decade.

“Strategic energy resources are now largely in the hands of foreign companies (some state owned) making it difficult for Scottish and UK governments to control”, said Willie.

“The UK has failed to develop an industrial strategy to realise the potential in terms of local employment, supply chain dynamics and economic development opportunities.”

But there is an alternative.

Most successful countries developing renewable energy (Denmark and Germany) have used renewed forms of public ownership and state intervention rather than market-based solutions

“Resources should be commonly owned to benefit the whole of society rather than vested interests; geared to social need rather than private economic return”, said Willie.

“The energy system should be planned by public bodies to achieve security of supply as a priority policy concern with a strong political vision over the long term, with commensurate policy and planning provisions.”

He called for a clear focus on energy efficiency with measures to tackle hard-to-heat homes.

“Existing energy policy, predicated on market led and privatised solutions, is not fit for purpose” added Willie.

“A much longer term approach to Scotland’s energy is required where energy resources are owned, managed and distributed for the collective good, and on behalf of present and future generations rather than private and corporate interests.”

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