Center MP: Universal electricity prices could be set even lower

Taavi Aas (Center).
Taavi Aas (Center). Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Opposition Center Party MP Taavi Aas says that a proposed universal electricity service, which would cap prices for consumers in response to record-breaking rates in recent months, could be set at an even lower price.

The price the service, only announced Tuesday, would be set at has yet to be announced.

Aas, who was economic affairs minister in the last administration, and the preceding one, said that he saw the hand of Isamaa behind the concept of a universal electricity service, as rolled out by IT and foreign trade minister Kristjan Järvan.

Aas told ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) Tuesday that: "The rapid completion of this bill actually shows that this is still a government led by Isamaa and [Isamaa leader] Helir-Valdor Seeder. When we were in the government, the Reform Party was in no mood to carry out something like this."

"Now and insofar as I have read on the topic, it certainly raises questions as to whether business is somehow also being taken into consideration," Aas added.

As things stand the service would apply only to private households.

"Perhaps as of the present I have understood it that this universal service price only applies to domestic consumers, but it is certainly necessary to support entrepreneurs as well. Third, I understand, of course, that at the moment it is still unclear how the price of this universal service will be formulated, but if only Eesti Energia's oil shale plants are used as the basis for this formulation, I think that the price could be furhter lowered. Eesti Energia also has energy production options which have no CO2 price component and which would certainly lower the average price offered by Eesti Energia," he went on.

Reform MP and chair of the Riigikogu's economic affairs committee Kristen Michal says that a universal electricity service with a fixed price limit would provde the public with peace of mind.

Kristjan Järvan meanwhile announced the project on Tueday, though declined to name a price, stating that this would exert political pressure on the Competition Authority, the body tasked with actually setting that price.

The universal service applies to domestic customers only, Järvan said, while those canceling contracts (if, for instance, their provider could not offer the service) would not be subject to a fine, he said.

The bill amending the relevant legislation, the Electricity Market Act and the Competition Act, is set for discussion at the chamber on August 18 and the aim is for it to pass at the Riigikogu in time for heating season, traditionally held to start on October 1 (and run to the end of March).

Kristjan Järvan masterminded the liberalization of the Estonian pension system, which made membership of the second pillar, referring to employer/employee contributions, voluntary where it had previously been mandatory for most wage earners. The policy was an Isamaa one and was enacted during the Center/EKRE/Isamaa administration, which left office in January 2021, and in which Taavi Aas was economics minister.

Monday's average electricity price in Estonia of just over €500 per MWh for the day was a new all-time record, at a time when the record is frequently being broken and re-broken.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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