Brussels reacts to rising energy prices in Belgium

PARIS -- Belgian authorities propose energy price ceilings and investigate why Belgian citizens are paying more for electricity and gas than its European neighbors.
Written by Bryan Pirolli, Correspondent (Paris)

PARIS – Belgian authorities are possibly looking to set fixed electricity and gas prices this month in response to rising energy rates.  According to French-Belgian daily Le Soir, the government should decide by the end of the month exactly what measures it is going to take.

Belgians obtain a little over half of their electricity from nuclear power plants whereas France, by comparison, receives about two thirds of its energy from nuclear sources.  Germany, on the other hand, is set to close all nuclear reactors by 2022 in favor of renewable sources. Still Belgians pay more than citizens in either of these countries.

A report by Belgian electricity regulator Creg in 2011 said that German nuclear plant closings are causing price rises in Belgium, which once imported electricity from Germany.  It remains unclear if the closings are enough to account for the rising costs, forcing the government to research the disparities.

According to a report by Eurostat, electricity prices are not just high, but in fact disproportionately expensive in Belgium, where a kilowatt hour costs 0.1572€ ($0.20 USD).  By comparison, average prices in the US range around $0.11 USD.

The report shows that Belgian electricity is largely more expensive that European neighbors France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Germany, and the UK where the average price of a kilowatt hour is 0.1303€ ($0.16 USD).  Prices for gas are also slightly more expensive in Belgium than in the other five countries.  Authorities in Brussels are looking potentially to intervene.

Near the end of January or the beginning of Februrary, Secretary of the State for Energy, Melchior Wathele will present a report on energy use among Belgians in order to determine the cause for the higher prices.

“If necessary, price maximums will be temporarily be set in case the prices in Belgium are unjustified by comparison to our five neighboring countries,” he told Le Soir.

He said that the reasons for the price disparity could come from a variety of reasons, be they consumer usage, energy providers, or governmental issues.  Once he compiles the report, Brussels will act quickly to take the next step to prevent further price increases.

Photo: Publics.bg

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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