Now call me picky but I think we should expect to be able to afford basic heating throughout our jerry-built hovels while being grateful we don’t have the upkeep of say a mansion as sprawling, grand and presumably a nightmare to heat as that belonging to the Tory government’s welfare advisor (unelected) Lord Freud (of the slip).
For years, since discovering it, I have been quite put out by our hydro-electricity being sold off cheaper to Russian oligarchs in London than your average crofter with one sheep and a cow in Achnasheen – where it rains a lot, contributing to hydro power. It rains a lot in London too but their rain disappears down drains, much like everything else down there.
Electricity we couldn’t live without it – as comfortably as we do. And so people realised when Britain’s first companies were formed to generate/ distribute / sell the stuff – stuff being a generic term for something I don’t understand – I mean have you seen it?
Building dams by flooding Scottish glens was a great way to generate electricity. Not so great for the people who were moved away or the animals drowned or even a relative of mine blown up in an explosion in the making of the dam at Torr Achilty but there are always downsides to everything.
In 1943 the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board was established to run production of hydro-electricity in the Highlands and soon it absorbed the Grampian Electricity Supply Company to become even bigger.
At the time electricity was supplied through a mixture of bodies both private and public and more or less knocked into shape with the establishment of the National Grid in 1938. Ten years later, supplies were nationalised. Fourteen regional electricity boards oversaw distribution as part of the British Electricity Authority.
The next biggest change came with Thatcher and her government; let’s call them daylight robbery specialists who sold off any public asset they could get away with, as cheaply as they could get away with – hang on that’s ringing bells.
Scotland was still generating huge amounts of power.
Scottish Hydro-Electric joined up with Southern Electric which operated in the south of England in the late nineties and became Scottish and Southern Energy plc whose Chairman is Lord Smith of Kelvin (yes that one).
Which brings me back to my question to SSE – why is it that the people in the very areas of Scotland which generates so much energy have to pay so much more for it than people in the south of England?
The Hydro line appears to be that folk in the north are so much farther away from the main distribution point, in the south, so must expect to pay more.
But why doesn’t that argument work the other way round? Why do people in the south not have to pay more for the power that has to be transferred along the National Grid to where they live hundreds of miles away?
It’s like that question people from Aberdeen get when in the central belt trying to arrange a reciprocal meeting here and are asked, ‘how far is it to Aberdeen from here?’ to which the response is, ‘exactly the same distance from Aberdeen to here.’
If I lived in London SSE would charge me a
Unit Rate of 13.82 or SSE Direct Unit rate 10.91
Here in Aberdeenshire their rate is –
Unit Rate of 15.60 or SSE Direct Unit Rate 12.32
This unfair disparity has been operating for years – imagine how much more that will have added to bills up here for people suffering the coldest winters and many who can ill-afford high electricity charges.
It’s time this anomaly was rectified in our favour.