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Scottish utility to address energy poverty

EDINBURGH, Scotland, June 15 (UPI) -- A Scottish power utility has agreed to work with the government on a multimillion-dollar program to improve energy efficiency, officials in Edinburgh said.

Utility company ScottishPower is under fire for announcing that it would charge another 19 percent for natural gas and another 10 percent for electricity on average starting Aug. 1.

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Scottish Finance Secretary John Swinney said he was concerned about the potential impact of the increases.

"Living in fuel poverty is a harsh reality for far too many households in energy rich Scotland," he said in a statement. "All power companies need to play their part and do everything possible to mitigate the impacts of price rises, especially for vulnerable customers."

He said he was anxiously awaiting updates from regulator Ofgem on what he said were "unacceptable" price increases.

The utility announced it was taking part in a $16.4 million effort to improve energy efficiency in Scottish households.

"The Scottish government will help us target communities to improve energy efficiency and work on a street by street, home by home basis," said Raymond Jack from ScottishPower in a statement.

Swinney said the effort was a small but welcome step.

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