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ENERGY

Swedes pay more for electricity than Nordic neighbours

Swedes are paying considerably more for their domestic electricity than their Nordic neighbours, according to research carried out by the Swedish Homeowners Association (Villaägarna).

Swedes pay more for electricity than Nordic neighbours
Photo: kalleboo

The organisation found that the annual cost of electricity in an average Swedish house is almost 9,000 kronor higher than in a comparable house in Finland.

A Swedish homeowner can expect to pay 21,000 kronor per year, while Finns will pay an average of 12,554 kronor. Norwegians with a similar sized house will pay around 19,000 kronor per year, reports Dagens Industri – almost 10% less than the Swedes.

The Homeowners Association claims that expensive Swedish electricity is entirely due to the country’s electricity tax, since prices on the Nordic energy markets are otherwise the same.

The high price has prompted enterprise and energy minister Maud Olofsson to float the possibility of reducing the energy tax.

“I would consider taking a look at it,” she said in an interview with Dagens Industri.

“Generally speaking, I think the energy debate needs to head towards an overhaul of the system in order to create credibility.”

A month ago, Olofsson sparked fury among homeowners by telling them to insulate their homes, install triple-glazed windows and replace incandescent bulbs if they wanted to lower their bills.

She also urged electricity customers to unplug electrical appliances to keep them from running in standby mode – advice which the Swedish Homeowners Association vice director Joacim Olsson called “a provocation”.

But the most important factors in bringing down the cost of electricity, according to Olofsson, are continued development of renewable sources of energy production and improved energy efficiency.

“As long as we need coal, oil and gas, increased consumption of electricity will drive up the prices,” she said.

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ENERGY

Sweden to stop local governments blocking wind parks in final stages

Sweden's government has proposed a new law which will remove local municipalities' power to block wind parks in the final stages of the planning process, as part of a four-point plan to speed up the expansion of wind power.

Sweden to stop local governments blocking wind parks in final stages

“We are doing this to meet the increased need for electricity which is going to come as a result of our green industrial revolution,” Strandhäll said at a press conference. 

“It is important to strengthen Sweden by rapidly breaking our dependence on fossil fuels, building out our energy production and restructuring our industry. The Swedish people should not be dependent on countries like Russia to drive their cars or warm their homes.”

“We are going to make sure that municipalities who say “yes” to wind power get increased benefits,” she added in a press statement. “In addition, we are going to increase the speed with which wind power is built far offshore, which can generally neither be seen or heard from land.” 

While municipalities will retain a veto over wind power projects on their territory under the proposed new law, they will have to take their decision earlier in the planning process to prevent wind power developers wasting time and effort obtaining approvals only for the local government to block projects at the final stags. 

“For the local area, it’s mostly about making sure that those who feel that new wind parks noticeably affect their living environment also feel that they see positive impacts on their surroundings as a result of their establishment,” Strandhäll said.  “That might be a new sports field, an improved community hall, or other measures that might make live easier and better in places where wind power is established.” 

According to a report from the Swedish Energy Agency, about half of the wind projects planned since 2014 have managed to get approval. But in recent years opposition has been growing, with the opposition Moderate, Swedish Democrats, and Christian Democrat parties increasingly opposing projects at a municipal level. 

Municipalities frequently block wind park projects right at the end of the planning process following grassroots local campaigns. 

The government a month ago sent a committee report, or remiss, to the Council on Legislation, asking them to develop a law which will limit municipal vetoes to the early stages of the planning process. 

At the same time, the government is launching two inquiries. 

The first will look into what incentives could be given to municipalities to encourage them to allow wind farms on their land, which will deliver its recommendations at the end of March next year. In March, Strandhäll said that municipalities which approve wind farm projects should be given economic incentives to encourage them to accept projects on their land. 

The second will look into how to give the government more power over the approvals process for wind projects under Sweden’s environmental code. This will deliver its recommendations at the end of June next year. 

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