Power firms deny cartel

Sweden's major power companies have denied operating as a cartel at the beginning of the millennium in response to accusations that for many years they have reduced nuclear power production to maintain a higher price.

But sources within Vattenfall have admitted that nuclear power was controlled during 2000 and 2001 when prices were at their lowest.

Björn Karlsson, a professor of energy systems at Linköping University, told TT that he was in possession of internal documents showing the company’s plan to reduce electricity production to keep prices up.

A supply curve on the fax showed that the company was shutting down production when the price was at 18 öre per kilowatt hour when the running costs could have been as low as 3 or 4 öre in a normally competitive market.

During the summer of 2000 the price fell further, to under 10 öre per kilowatt hour, at which point Vattenfall decided to act.

“We judged that we would not get a fair coverage allowance and made a decision to cut back, with the prices as low as they were then,” said Nils Andersson, head of Nordic business development within Vattenfall.

Swedish nuclear power is owned in varying proportions by Vattenfall, Eon and Fortum. But Nils Andersson said there was never any collaboration between the companies regarding the quantities of electricity produced.

“Each company says how much it wants from each power station. Then the people at the power station add up the owners’ requirements and then operate the power station accordingly,” he said.

Björn Karlsson’s interpretation of the supply curve with its 18 öre cut-off was completely wrong, according to Andersson.

“We have also seen such a fax. It’s some inquiry that was carried out somewhere in one of our development companies. But it’s absolutely not something which was part of our production planning,” he said.