EDINBURGH, Scotland, Sept. 21 (UPI) -- The Scottish government called on energy companies and consumer groups to attend a fuel summit to discuss prices before the winter heating season.
Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond suggested interested parties to discuss energy issues. He said recent moves from regional energy companies meant prices could increase by as much as 19 percent for natural gas and 16 percent for electricity.
"Scotland is an energy-rich country and it is a disgrace that around 770,000 households here are in fuel poverty," he said in a statement.
British energy regulator Ofgem, during the summer, said investments needed to meet the country's clean-energy objectives means consumer bills could increase by as much as 52 percent.
Douglas Sinclair, the chairman of a consumer focus group for Scotland, said consumers can be expected to pay more for energy because prices have gone up across the board but so have profits for major energy companies.
Alex Neil, the Scottish secretary for infrastructure and capital investment, said home heating costs are becoming a major concern for his countrymen. Major energy companies need to find a way to remain competitive in a global marketplace while keeping the customer's interests in mind.
"Promoting the interests of Scottish consumers ahead is critical -- particularly as we face a winter when people are going to have to spend increasing amounts of tight household budgets heating their homes," he said.