“IF a man deceives me once, shame on him. If twice, shame on me”.

The McCrone Report demonstrates very clearly how Scotland was deceived 50 years ago regarding North Sea oil – and the wealth created from the Scottish oil fields has been pumped into the City of London. The Tory and Labour parties, as the British state, have continued with that deception, most notably in the run-up to the independence referendum in 2014 when they mendaciously propounded that the oil was about to run out and Scotland couldn’t possibly financially support itself.

We are being deceived yet again with regards power generation. What are we going to do about it? Lay back and let the British state walk all over us again?

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The amount of electricity Scotland generates and uses is set out online in a report by the Scottish Government here. For me the main facts from this report are:

• In 2022, 35.3TWh of renewable electricity was generated in Scotland (this will have increased since then, with more wind farms coming on stream).

• Scotland’s net exports of electricity (exports minus imports) in 2022 were 18.7TWh (almost exactly half).

• The value of Scotland’s electricity exports had an estimated wholesale market value of £4 billion based on the prices at that time.

To obtain electricity, I have to contract with a rentier company, my “supplier”, and in my case this is now a company based in Bristol to which I was passed by SSE. My bill identifies three elements – unit rate, standing charge and VAT (ie tax payable to the Westminster government). These elements, however, do not clearly give a breakdown of the actual costs.

The actual headings for the breakdown of costs can be seen here. The electricity bill is made up of the wholesale cost of the power (about 30% of bill); the network charges (about 20% – which largely goes to another rentier company based in London which acquired the formerly publicly owned National Grid); operating costs (about 20%) which will include the “supplier’s” tax charge; environmental and social obligations (about 25% of the bill and basically another tax); mutualisation (where we are picking up the renewables obligations of previously failed dodgy “suppliers” – so basically a tax others have failed to pay); and bad debt costs (which should surely come out of the companies’ profits rather than customers’ pockets).

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But look at the wholesale price. From the above Scottish Government figures, the likelihood is that my electricity is being generated by renewables at a cost far below the average UK price being applied to my bill. However, the Westminster government has applied a further tax – the Electricity Generators Levy’ – to “balance” costs across the UK, so the renewable generators based in Scotland are hit with an additional 45% tax.

The standing charge, although noted as separate on my bill, is included in the actual costs I have highlighted above and is set by the UK statutory body Ofgem, based in London. However, for some “complicated” (Ofgem’s word) reason, Scotland has some of the highest charges. This is a cost I cannot escape by reducing my energy usage and it affects poorer and low-usage customers disproportionately.

So, in essence, about half my electricity bill is a form of tax, either direct or as a charge controlled by the Westminster government, while a sizeable element goes into profits to rentier firms based elsewhere in the UK.

To me the whole electricity supply is corrupt in the way it is structured to benefit the Westminster government and subsidise the people in the rest of the UK at the expense of those living in Scotland. In an independent Scotland our electricity bill could be half what we are currently paying AND we would have the potential for huge export earnings.

However, it is even worse than that. There are huge opportunity costs to our economy. Think of the industries and companies we could attract with cheap energy prices. Think of the taxes we could re-invest in our own economy, instead of being squandered on (for us) unnecessary and unwanted nuclear power.

Let us not be deceived again. As the McCrone Report highlights, we were deceived by the British state about the potential of North Sea oil. Its benefits were squandered and pumped into the City at the same time Scottish industries were being decimated. We must not let this happen again – we cannot be deceived again. Let us be angry at the duplicity of the British state and bring its influence over us to an end. Let us have our own independent country.

Frank Spratt