STATEMENT ON OWNERSHIP OF ENERGY NETWORKS
SSE firmly believes that the customer and public interest is best served by the continued independent economic regulation of privately-owned energy networks.
The UK’s energy networks are among the best performing in the world. Attracting record levels of investment and delivering much-improved efficiency, customer satisfaction and reliability, they now cost customers significantly less than under state ownership. They are delivering UK’s transition to a low-carbon, flexible energy system and, as electrification of heat and transport accelerates, will play an integral role in its future success.
Complex and costly proposals to bring energy networks under state control bring no obvious benefit yet also severely jeopardise progress to tackle climate change at a critical juncture. At the very time the UK should be using all levers to invest for a Net Zero future, it would be burdened by a bureaucratic system where funding for decarbonisation would compete with other public spending priorities.
Aside from this disruption and inefficiency, paying for state ownership and control of energy networks would require full compensation of owners at great expense to tax payers, or risk destabilising UK listed utilities such as SSE and National Grid, which are features of the pensions of many British citizens. Neither of these options are in the public interest.
SSE recognises that the industry must continue to evolve to meet changing needs. As a committed Living Wage employer and a vocal proponent of Fair Tax, SSE is working with regulators to explore new ways of ensuring that all energy network companies in Great Britain operate in the public interest and fulfil their social contract.
SSE will continue to engage with the regulator, government and all political parties to progress this vision and ensure the UK remains on the road to delivery of its future energy ambitions.
SSE plc commissioned NERA Economic Consulting to consider the comparative effect of state control and private ownership on cost efficiency and customer service performance in the electricity supply industry (ESI), with a focus on electricity networks.
The evidence shows that there has been substantive and continued improvement in cost and customer service performance by UK electricity networks in the period since privatisation. It concludes that if the objective is an electricity system that delivers enhanced services for customers and investment to deliver a decarbonised energy sector in the most efficient way possible, the objective is most likely to be achieved through private provision subject to independent economic regulation.