A north-east academic has dismissed claims of higher energy bills in an independent Scotland as “highly implausible”.
The UK Government has predicted that electricity bills would have to rise because it would no longer subsidise renewable energy projects north of the border.
Dr David Toke, of Aberdeen University, believes that would require “illegal” retrospective legislation.
Dr Toke, an expert in renewable energy, will outline his case at the Scottish Parliament’s economy, energy and tourism committee today. He has concluded that the Scottish Government’s target of producing 100% of Scottish electricity from renewables by 2020 can be achieved without increasing energy bills in the event of a Yes vote.
Dr Toke’s assessment is that prices will go up if Scotland remains part of the union because of the UK Government’s decision to invest in new nuclear power plants.
Last year a group of academics, of which Dr Toke was part, concluded that it would be more expensive to reach the Scottish Government’s renewables target outside the union. However, the UK Government’s nuclear energy policy changed their minds.
Dr Toke said: “From my earlier work, and the views of other experts, I find implausible the recent claims by the UK Government that Scottish energy consumers would face steep price increases to fund the achievement of the whole Scottish renewables target under independence.
“The UK Government’s claim implies that – in the event of independence – it would enact retrospective legislation to remove the incentives from renewable energy schemes that have already been installed, or are about to be installed, in Scotland. This would be judged illegal by the courts.”
Dr Toke said the best option for renewable development could be a “devo plus” arrangement within the union, with energy policy devolved to Scotland.