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ENERGY

Sweden issues ‘early warning’ on Russian gas supply

The Swedish Energy Agency on Tuesday declared a first level "early warning" over fears that gas supplies may be impacted due to reductions in energy imports from Russia following the war in Ukraine.

Sweden issues 'early warning' on Russian gas supply
The headquarters of Russian gas monopoly Gazprom in St. Petersburg, Russia. Photo: AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky/TT

The announcement, which concerned western Sweden, follows a similar declaration by Denmark on Monday evening.

“Sweden and Denmark have a common gas market and a joint balancing zone where the Danish supply situation is of great importance for the Swedish one,” the agency said in a statement.

“Therefore the Energy Agency in Sweden has decided to mirror Denmark’s decision on a crisis level,” it added. The European Union has established a system to allow member states to flag up impending energy supply difficulties using three ascending levels of alerts — beginning with “early warning”, followed by “alert”, then “emergency”.

The system allows for mutual assistance from other EU countries, but could also mean a start to rationing supplies.

Sweden’s Energy Agency meanwhile noted that “the supply situation of gas in Sweden is still robust,” and that stockpiles in Sweden, Denmark and Europe are “well stocked ahead of the autumn.”

Danish energy company Ørsted announced at the end of May that delivery of Russian gas to the Scandinavian country would be suspended from June 1st, after
Ørsted refused to settle the payment in rubles.

On Monday, the Netherlands announced it will lift restrictions on coal-fired power generation, a day after Germany and Austria took similar steps to alleviate their reliance on Russian gas supplies.

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2022 SWEDISH ELECTION

Sweden’s Moderates call for state to foot private energy bills

The opposition Moderate Party has proposed that the government contribute towards households' electricity bills this winter, as electricity prices are expected to rise.

Sweden's Moderates call for state to foot private energy bills

The party is proposing a high-cost protection or högkostnadsskydd similar to that found in Norway, where the state will commit to covering a percentage of all costs over a certain figure.

It is not yet clear how the system would work, but the Moderates’ finance spokesperson, Elisabeth Svantesson, said it the government should set a price threshold, above which the government would shoulder the majority of any extra cost. 

“You could expect the state to pay for 75 percent of the cost of everything over one krona per kilowatt hour,” she suggested, adding that a one krona threshold would cut around 6,000 kronor off the energy bill of an average family in Norrland.

“We can’t completely protect the consumer, but we can make it easier,” she said. “No one should be forced to leave their home this winter because of an electricity bill.”

The cost to the state, if this model were to be adopted, would be around 15 billion kronor for a three-month period, she added. 

The Moderates suggest financing the proposal in a number of ways, including taking funds from labour market policy measures which are not currently used, the klimatklivet – a programme providing investments for climate-friendly initiatives, as well as from profits generated by state-owned Swedish power company Vattenfall.

In addition to this, the Moderates are pushing for expansion of Sweden’s nuclear power production, as well as increasing the discount on building solar panels from 15 to 20 percent.

Svantesson also proposed that this discount be expanded to include other environmentally friendly alternatives, such as the installation of air source heat pumps.

“It would both lower electricity consumption and increase electricity production,” she said.

Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson is open to the suggestion, stating that her party would “study the proposal very carefully”.

“We have shown in government during the spring that we are prepared to support households during this difficult time for many,” she said, with a caveat. “It is important to say that we will not be able to compensate for every price increase caused by the war in Ukraine.”

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