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.