Isamaa leader: Universal service should cover companies

Isamaa chair Helir-Valdor Seeder.
Isamaa chair Helir-Valdor Seeder. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Coalition Isamaa party leader Helir-Valdor Seeder said on the Vikerraadio "Reporteritund" program that their aim is to have the universal energy service also cover companies.

"The price of electricity is too much not just for home consumers but also the Estonian economy. We are neither sustainable nor competitive at such prices. The government is discussing measures to help companies," Seeder said.

"It is Isamaa's desire and proposal that it would be very simple, unbureaucratic and favorable for companies if we could extend the universal service for home consumers to cover all companies," Seeder said.

He added that this would require [state aid] talks with the European Commission, which would take a fair bit of time. "However, I hope that the Commission realizes the extraordinary situation of war, soaring electricity prices, the market not working as we would like, as well as that the European Union is capable of reacting quickly to keep negotiations brief and for us to be able to extend the universal service to companies," Seeder remarked.

How to bring down the price of gas?

Host Mirko Ojakivi asked Seeder whether the government can do something to make sure the price of gas won't jeopardize jobs in Estonia.

Seeder emphasized that the electricity market reform also concerns gas and district heating customers, adding that the government will discuss these matters next week and take decisions before September is out.

"That is to say private consumers will be compensated for 80 percent of the price exceeding €80 per megawatt-hour (MWh). The same goes for district heating – €80/MWh, with 80 percent of everything beyond that compensated without a volume cap. The latter is 2.6 megawatts for gas. Things are much more complicated when it comes to firewood. The government will have to find a solution together with local governments for a compensation mechanism," Seeder suggested.

"Talking about business, there is no simpler solution than trying to introduce a domestic price ceiling to keep companies competitive," he added.

The universal service or electricity market reform bill passed its first reading on Wednesday.

Draft legislation to amend the Electricity Market Act and Competition Act, or the so-called electricity market reform, will make it possible to cap the production price of power and sell power to home consumers as a universal service.

Michal: Search for solutions

Ojakivi also asked Reform Party MP Kristen Michal whether his party supports expanding the universal service to companies, or whether this would be unfeasible in a market economy.

"Market economy will hopefully remain in effect. But this has been discussed. First of all, we back the universal service as such, as it would not be included in the coalition agreement otherwise. Solutions are being sought for companies as promised by Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Riina Sikkut and Minister of Foreign Trade and IT Kristjan Järvan," he said.

"Above all, we are waiting for solutions. Solutions were available during the previous government's time – compensation for various fees etc. It is not the first year this is being discussed, and it is likely a solution will be found. I hope it will be aimed at those who need it most," the Reform MP added.

Sikkut: No decision at this time

Minister Riina Sikkut (SDE) said that no support measures for companies were agreed during coalition talks and no such package currently exists.

"There is no agreement in terms of who should be compensated for what. These debates will happen as part of state budget negotiations, alongside other prospective expenses. We could know something in three weeks' time at the earliest," the minister said.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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