News item | 2010-05-17 | 11:20 AM

Energy News Europe - week 19, 2010

Belgium  

GDF Suez could pay additional fee to run nuclear power plants longer
Le Soir de Bruxelles, 2010-05-14Paul Magnette, the Belgian energy minister, has said that the French energy company GDF Suez could have to pay an additional fee for running its Belgian nuclear power plants longer. This could raise between EUR 215mn (USD 269.36mn) and EUR 245mn in taxes for Belgium. The minister said that the exact amount depends on the company's profits.
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Finland

Fortum's nuclear power plant permit already being lobbied?
Loviisan Sanomat, 2010-05-11
In Finland, the future of power company Fortum's Loviisa 3 nuclear power plant project is the topic of speculation again although Fortum was not one of the power companies granted a permit by the Government only a couple of weeks ago. Also, the permits granted to Fennoivoima and Teollisuuden Voima have not yet been passed by Parliament. It is said that the Loviisa 3 power plant is being lobbied for the next Government's programme.

According to Member of Parliament Markku Laukkanen, who is also the chairman of Fortum's Supervisory Board, it would be wrong if Fortum's costly preparatory work would be wasted. In addition, Fortum's power plant would only replace old nuclear power capacity that is being shut down. Also the chairman of the Parliament's Commerce Committee has said that he will push for a license for Fortum in the next Government's programme.

Anne Brunila, Fortum's Executive Vice President, Corporate Relations and Sustainability, is not comfortable with the idea that the company would submit a new permit application already to the next Parliament. At least the company has to receive a clear signal first that the atmosphere is favourable to the Loviisa 3 power plant.
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France  

CRE says that electricity prices will skyrocket after market reform
La Tribune, 2010-05-14
According to the French energy regulation commission (or CRE) electricity market reform will lead to higher prices for both individuals and businesses. For individual and small business clients, prices would increase by 11.4% in the first year and 3.5% every year after through 2025. For bigger businesses and industrial clients, there would be an increase of 14.8% the first year followed by a 3.7% increase every year from 2011 to 2025.

CRE is calling for an increase of 7.1% in the first year and 3.1% every year through 2025 as well as a price of EUR 38 (USD 47.61) per MWh. For his part, the CEO of French energy group EDF wants to see a minimum price per MWh of EUR 42 (USD 52.62). As for the government, the French Energy Minister denies what he sees as price increase rumours and notes that only the French government may set electricity prices.
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Germany

EC approves Elia's purchase of 50Hertz Transmission
Echonet, 2010-05-10
The Belgian electricity grid manager Elia and the Australian company Industry Funds Management (IFM) have had their purchase of the Swedish power company Vattenfall's German electricity grid 50Hertz Transmission approved by the European Commission. The Commission does not expect the purchase to impede competition in Europe. The purchase of 50Hertz Transmission will cost EUR 810mn (USD 1.04bn), EUR 320mn of which will be needed for the taking control of the company's debts. After the purchase Elia will hold 60% of 50Hertz Transmission.
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Majority change in Bundesrat might impact energy policy
Financial Times Deutschland, 2010-05-11
Due to the outcome of the election in the German federal state of North-Rhine Westphalia, the German coalition government of CDU/CSU and FDP lost its majority in the Bundesrat [the upper chamber of the German parliament]. In consequence, the debate over the extension of the operating time of nuclear power stations in Germany could take turn. According to industry sources, the big energy utilities started examining the chances of the German government's plans for an extension of the operating times of nuclear power stations.

By contrast, mid-sized utilities such as Trianel and 8KU welcome the change in the Bundesrat as an extension of the operating times of nuclear power stations would bolster the 80% market share of RWE, Eon, Vattenfall and EnBW. The energy industry fears that the change in the Bundesrat will make it harder to establish clear framework conditions, for example regarding carbon capture and storage (CCS) or combined heat and power generation.
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Italy  

Eon and Gdf-Suez set to sign nuclear MoU
Milano Finanza, 2010-05-13
Allegedly Eon of Germany and Gdf-Suez of France are set to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) relating to a joint venture on the future Italian nuclear energy market. This would follow on from the letters of intent signed between the two parties back in Autumn 2009. The next step from this is to find an Italian partner. A2A has been named as a possibility although the Italian utility denies this. The rumours may be premature given that Italy's nuclear program cannot go ahead until the Nuclear Security Agency is set up, something that must happen before sites for nuclear plants can be decided upon.
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Netherlands  

Energy companies cooperate on CCS
De Volkskrant, 2010-05-12
Dutch energy companies Nuon, Gasunie and Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij (NAM), and German firm RWE, are to cooperate on carbon capture and storage (CCS) in empty gas fields in the north of the Netherlands as part of the Stichting Borg. Trials in the region are to start in 2015; the government has a number of fields earmarked as potential test fields.

The Stichting Borg said that CO2 storage had a bad public image, and is aiming to reassure the public that it is safe through information evenings, a website and adverts in newspapers. The government is to provide it with EUR 4mn (USD 5.05mn) in subsidies, while the companies involved will provide it with the same amount.
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Poland  

Tender for privatisation of Energa called
Warsaw Business Journal, 2010-05-11
The Polish Finance Ministry has called a tender for privatisation of 83% of shares in Energa, an energy group. The deadline for preliminary offers is 1 June 2010. The price of the stake is estimated to be PLN 5bn (EUR 1.25bn USD 1.59bn). Polska Grupa Energetyczna (PGE), the biggest energy group in Poland, and PGNiG, a gas company, have expressed interest in Energa shares. Both companies are state-owned. Kulczyk Holdings, owned by the richest Pole Jan Kulczyk, also announced intention to bid.
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Government agrees on bill to liberate household electricity prices
Gazeta Wyborcza, 2010-05-11
Poland's government has finally agreed on the structure of the bill concerning the liberation of electricity prices, and how concessions for the poorest and most vulnerable will be structured. The bill envisages that electricity providers in Poland will be able to set their own prices for electricity supplied to household customers, who will be able to change suppliers, just as is currently the case with corporate and industrial clients of electricity providers in Poland today.

It was agreed that there needed to be some provision for vulnerable elements in society, and it is planned that those poorest people using the least amount of electricity will not have to pay for their use up to a certain threshold, and this will vary depending on the number of people in the household. In addition, it is reported that 629,000 people receiving social security payments will be able to claim a 30% discount on electricity bills.

The government will, it is thought, compensate for these extra subsidies with the extra tax revenue it expects to gain from higher electricity prices. The draft bill will now be prepared to be put forward in the lower house of the Polish parliament, the Sejm.
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Government agrees to sell 53% of Tauron shares
Gazeta Wyborcza, 2010-05-11
According to PAP, the Polish government is willing to sell 53% of Tauron, the second largest energy group in Poland, and not 25% as initially planned. A total of 88% of Tauron's shares are state-owned, the remainder belonging to employees.
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United Kingdom

EDF expecting to receive around GBP 4bn for power networks arm
Telegraph (UK), 2010-05-12
Energy supplier, EDF Energy, says that it is expecting bids of around GBP 4bn (EUR 4.73bn USD 5.97bn) for its UK power networks business by June. The French state-owned energy firm, which is Europe's largest power generator, put the business up for sale in late 2009. It expects bids from Macquarie Capital, Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE), the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, the Hong Kong-based billionaire Li Ka-Shing and a consortium of Canadian pension funds.

EDF is keep to reduce its debts, as it looks to embark on a programme to build four new nuclear reactors in the UK by 2020, as well as plants elsewhere in Europe, and expansion into the US and China. Thomas Piquemal, EDF's chief financial officer, added that the firm had increased its sales during the first quarter of 2010 by 4%, to EUR 22bn (USD 27.78bn).
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E.on launches campaign to promote Energy Fit Starter Pack
Marketing Week, 2010-05-11
A television campaign is being launched in the UK by the German-owned energy company E.on to promote its Energy Fit Starter Pack. The firm states that it has launched the pack because research from its customer panel found that customers want tailored information and tools to help them to cut their energy usage. The pack will be available to all E.on customers. It incorporates an energy monitor, which enables people to immediately see and track their electricity usage. It also includes computer software that will allow customers to track their ongoing energy usage. DLKW created the campaign, whilst the media buying was handled by MediaCom.
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