Power companies accused of price fixing

Swedish power companies have been accused of secretly cooperating to raise energy prices.

At the turn of the millennium the large power companies agreed to lower electrical production to allow the price of electricity in Sweden to increase, said Björn Karlsson, professor at Linköping university.

Vattenfall confirmed that it lowered production when the price was too low, reports Swedish Radio.

Karlsson said he has internal documents that show the publicly listed company didn’t just manipulate the price on its own, but even did it after consulting with other companies.

“Yeah, you could say that,” Karlsson said to Swedish Radio. “The big power companies did it. There are documents that show this was deliberately done to increase energy prices.”

The energy industry faced a crisis in 2000 since the price of electricity was too low. The price covered variable costs for the nuclear power stations, but did not cover the costs of maintainence and investment, and was not enough to make the owners happy, said Swedish Radio.

During the year, the nuclear power industry lowered production, leading to a lesser supply of electricity increasing prices.

Seth Persson, chief of Vattenfall’s production planning, said there was no cooperation between companies to affect the price of electricity.

“In some situations we lowered nuclear power production when the prices were somewhat higher than the variable costs,” he said to Ekot. “The prices did not become as low as it otherwise should have been.”

According to Statistics Sweden (SCB), the average price for electricity for an apartment was 25.8 öre per kWh in 2000 compared to 54.4 öre in 2006.


Sweden to double wind energy production in next four years

Wind energy is set to double its share of Sweden's power supply over the next four years as a string of giant projects come online.

Sweden to double wind energy production in next four years
The Gabrielsberget wind project in Västerbotten. Photo: Swewind
The contribution of wind energy is scheduled to grow from 17TWh in 2018 to 35 TWh in 2022, taking wind's share from 12 percent to 25 percent of total power produced. 
Charlotte Unger, chief executive of the Swedish Wind Energy Association trade body said the pro-renewable policy decisions had been driving growth. 
“Sweden has the best regulatory regime for wind power projects from a European perspective, and therefore production costs the least here,” she told Swedish state broadcaster SVT.  “Investors have confidence in wind power in Sweden, and that's because of the policies that exist.” 
The largest new wind farm is the giant Markbyygden project outside Piteå, which is expected to supply 10TWh per year as it comes online in stages from this year, making it one of Europe's largest wind farms.  
Other major projects are the Överturingen wind farm in Västernorrland, Åskälen in Jämtland, and Valhalla in Gävleborg. 
The new farms will make up for the shutdown of two reactors at the Ringhals nuclear power station in 2019 and 2020. 
Because the majority of the new wind power projects are in the northern counties of Norrland, Västerbotten and Jämtland, the shift will require Sweden's state-owned grid operator Svenska Kraftnät to rapidly improve capacity, especially in central Sweden. 
But Niclas Damsgaard, the grid company's senior market strategist, said he believed the company would be able to keep pace with the growth. 
“It's going to work, but all this will mean an increase in risk. In an extreme case, some major industrial consumers may not be able to buy as much power as they want, but it's not going to mean difficulties across the country.”  
Unger said that if the new production exceeded Sweden's own needs, then the excess could be exported into Europe, reducing the continent's coal use. 
Between 2022 and 2040, the Swedish Wind Energy Association hopes to double the amount of wind power produced in  once again, taking it to half of Sweden's total power use.