NICOLA Surgeon has taken aim at a new era of cheaper energy bills across Scotland.

The First Minister announced at the SNP conference that she would set up a publicly-owned, not-for-profit energy company by the end of the parliamentary term.

The new choice of supplier could see consumers paying “as close to cost price as possible”.

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She said: “Energy would be bought wholesale or generated here in Scotland – renewable, of course – and sold to customers as close to cost price as possible.

“No shareholders to worry about. No corporate bonuses to consider.

“It would give people, particularly those on low incomes, more choice and the option of a supplier whose only job is to secure the lowest price for consumers.”

The ambitious plan was announced during the closing speech at the SNP conference on Tuesday.

This move would bring Scotland in line with other European countries, such as Sweden’s publicly-owned energy company Vattenfall.

However, Scottish Government officials were unable to answer basic questions on the proposed company.

For example, Sturgeon’s official spokesperson was unsure if it would supply only electricity or would offer gas too.

They were also unsure whether electricity would only be sourced from renewables.

Reacting to the news, Scottish Green MSP Patrick Harvie said: “The First Minister’s speech showed yet again how Greens are leading the change in our society, pushing the SNP beyond its comfort zone on everything from publicly-owned energy to lifting the public sector pay cap.”

Richard Leonard, who is standing for the Scottish Labour leadership, said Sturgeon was “clearly driven by her fear of Jeremy Corbyn” and had copied his energy company idea.

Citizens Advice Scotland welcomed the energy company proposal, saying it could “genuinely increases fairness for energy consumers”.