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Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff & Buchan

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UK Government Must End Discrimination Against Off-Grid Energy Customers

Monday, 30 December 2013

In the final week of parliament before Christmas the SNP has again raised the issue of discrimination against ‘off-grid’ energy customers.

Local MP Eilidh Whiteford says this is of significant importance for energy consumers in the North-east with thousands reliant on ‘off-grid’ energy such as tanker delivered oil and gas.

The Scottish National Party have called on the Westminster Government to end the discrimination against Off Gas Grid consumers in the operation of the Energy Company Obligation schemes. These schemes oblige energy companies to support customers to become more energy efficient by funding energy efficiency improvements worth around 1.3 billion pounds each year. However off-grid customers, who are off-grid generally through no choice of their own, are not always eligible.

Commenting after the SNP raised the issue in Scottish Questions Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

“Rural consumers, which include thousands in the North-east, are so often forgotten in arguments over energy prices. The Energy Company Obligation is supposed to be technology neutral, but the major energy companies will not include LPG or Home Fuel Oil boilers within their schemes. This is surely discriminatory.”

In his response Scotland Office Minister David Mundell said that his department were considering a Ministerial Round Table to discuss off gas grid issues, but Dr Whiteford says this is not enough:

“There is already a ministerial round table with the Department for Energy and Climate Change, the Department of Work and Pensions and others. The SNP has attended their meetings and raised this issue, amongst others, but no action has been taken by government.

“The situation is getting worse since as part of their amendments to the ECO the Westminster government are reducing the obligation to help hard to heat homes, the very homes in rural areas which tend also to be off the gas grid.

“The time for talking is over, the UK government need to take urgent action and insist that the major energy companies truly make the ECO schemes technology neutral and allow consideration of replacement LPG and Home Fuel Oil boilers.”

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