THE energy hike had been well trailed but the extent was still a shock.

Many constituents have been contacting me unaware how they can meet their bills. I’ve no doubt action will be initiated when Parliament reconvenes next week. Whether it will be enough is the issue.

The energy system in the UK is dysfunctional. Wholesale privatisation of a vital public service has been shown to be calamitous. When even the National Grid is in corporate hands, it’s no wonder that investment has been lacking and control and direction gone missing.

Many will know that Scotland produces more energy than it requires. Much goes onto the National Grid and goes south. What most don’t know is that so much is produced, and with the grid capacity lacking, that onshore turbines are often curtailed or just switched off.

It’s not one or two or just occasionally, as grid statistics showed that 17.6 per cent of onshore wind power had been curtailed last year. When folk are unable to heat their homes, why are we switching off this energy – which, after all, is now significantly cheaper than gas?

Worsening that is the utter absurdity that energy producers are paid more for curtailing their energy than actually supplying it. In Scotland alone, over £200 million was spent on such payments. The costs were also highest in winter, when energy is most needed. How crazy is it to be paying more to turn off turbines, just when folk need the energy most?

That appalling situation is only going to worsen as offshore wind comes ashore and grid capacity hasn’t increased sufficiently. But there’s a solution: to store energy which can’t be used here or transmitted south. Batteries can allow for that and for the energy to be sent when the grid has capacity or there is need.

Moreover, storage can allow for hydrogen production. That would bring jobs and businesses here. So far, Westminster hasn’t supported these initiatives. But this absurdity needs to end.