Electrabel profited EUR 1 billion by slapping on CO2 tax
Emission rights for the electricity producer came free for past two years, but the company charged companies EUR 1 billion worth of CO2 taxes nonetheless.19 May 2008
BELGIUM - Electricity producer Electrabel charged Belgian companies EUR 1 billion worth of CO2 taxes over the last two years.
The news was published in the daily De Standaard based on a study by Creg, the regulation committee of energy and gas.
Electrabel charged a CO2 tax, whereas Electrabel itself was given the emission rights free of charge.
Creg, the committee which supervises the Belgian electricity and gas market, investigated electricity prices between 2005 and 2007. Electrabel has been charging companies a CO2 tax.
The Creg study reveals that the price of electricity indeed went up significantly for companies due to the CO2 tax. Electrabel charged a total of some EUR 1 billion extra for CO2 emissions.
The largest electricity provider in Belgium is Electrabel with 90 percent of the total market.
According to the Creg study, the CO2 charge Electrabel slapped on the companies was illegitimate. In the same period, Electrabel was given CO2 emission rights for free.
"What was given free of charge for the producer was not free of charge for the consumer," says Tom Vanden Borre of Creg.
Electrabel has not done anything illegal as such, says Vanden Borre, but it shows pure opportunism.
Electrabel emphasises that the consumers have been paying the market price. Electrabel points out that prices are not fixed and clients are free to chose a competitor company if they want. "The price is determined by the market based on supply and demand," says Lut Vande Velde of Electrabel.
The CO2 contribution was charged to companies, not to individual consumers.
A common practice in many EU member states
Electricity producers only started paying CO2 emission rights the beginning of 2008. But many of them have been charging their clients a CO2 tax for much longer.
[flandersenews.be / Expatica]