Energy Action Scotland acknowledges the particular difficulties faced by the fuel poor in rural areas. These include:
- higher fuel costs
- lack of access to the mains gas grid
- premiums on energy
- challenging housing stock
- difficulty getting companies delivering energy efficiency measures to operate in some areas
Consumers in rural areas off the mains gas grid can pay significantly more for the same fuel sold in urban areas. Energy Action Scotland believes that the reason for this discrepancy in price can be attributed, in some part, to the lack of regulation of most rural heating fuels. Price control is therefore needed on domestic fuels such as heating oils, solid fuels, and LPG.
Housing stock in rural areas poses significant challenges when it comes to tackling fuel poverty. Older, stone built houses with greater wall surface areas, that are more likely to be detached or semi-detached and poor or no insulation in often exposed areas mean that retrofitting is difficult and therefore expensive. For this very reason Energy Action Scotland would urge that these energy inefficient homes be made a priority for retrofitting as rural consumers are being unfairly penalised for having the most energy inefficient homes and the most expensive energy.
Rural premiums on energy bills can be a huge financial burden on those living in rural areas. Energy Action Scotland believes a consultation should take place on the distribution price control mechanism that can add or take away premiums on all consumers’ energy bills to ensure that no one group of consumers suffers unfairly.
Energy Action Scotland welcomes the Scottish Government’s commitment to a ‘rural uplift’ to the UK Minimum Income Standard as part of the Scottish fuel poverty definition and will continue to scrutinise subsequent legislation on this.