Europe moves to cut peak electricity use by 5%

European Union (EU) chief, Ursula von der Leyen, has called for cuts to electricity use across the bloc and windfall taxes on energy firms to tackle high prices.

She told the European Parliament that gas and electricity prices had hit all-time highs after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

She called for electricity consumption to be cut at peak hours by at least 5 percent.

But plans for a cap on the price of natural gas, a key Russian export to the EU, were put on hold.

The plan outlined in Strasbourg targets “excess revenues” with proposals to skim the profits of low-carbon electricity producers and implement a de facto windfall tax on the oil, gas and coal sectors.

The money raised, estimated to be €140bn (£121bn; $141bn), would go to families and businesses across the EU’s 27 states.

Companies producing energy from low-carbon sources such as wind, solar and nuclear would face a cap of €180 per megawatt hour (MWh) on their revenue.

By comparison, the front-year electricity price in Germany, the EU’s biggest economy, was trading at just below €500/MWh on Wednesday.

“Power generators with lower operating costs have been able to reap extraordinary profits, way beyond what may have reasonably expected based on investment decisions,” European Commission Vice-President, Frans Timmermans, said.

The windfall tax on fossil fuel producers and refiners would require them to contribute 33 per cent of their taxable surplus profit.

The EU’s member states will pore over the proposals with hopes of an agreement by the end of this month.

Ms von der Leyen also announced she would be visiting Ukraine again later on Wednesday for talks with President Volodymyr Zelensky, saying: “Europe’s solidarity with Ukraine will remain unshakeable.”

Mr Zelensky’s wife Olena was in the Parliament as guest of honour to hear the speech.

Ms von der Leyen said that “making ends meet” was “becoming a source of anxiety for millions of businesses and households”.

“In these times, it is wrong to receive extraordinary record revenues and profits benefitting from war and on the back of our consumers,” she argued. Defending EU sanctions on Russia, she said: “This is the time for us to show resolve, not appeasement.” -BBC

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