By Anadolu Agency staff
ANKARA (AA) - European countries have been bracing for upcoming winter in the wake of an energy crisis.
EU energy ministers agreed on Friday on taxing the revenues of energy companies and reducing energy consumption during peak hours.
“Ministers reached a political agreement on measures to mitigate high electricity prices,” the Czech government, assuming the turning presidency of the Council of EU, announced on its official Twitter account.
The agreement involves mandatory reduction of electricity demand during peak hours, introduces solidarity contribution for fossil fuel producers, and caps revenues of companies that produce electricity at low costs, such as nuclear or renewable energy producers.
According to the new rules, EU countries will commit to a mandatory 5% reduction of their electricity consumption during peak hours and an overall target of a 10% decrease between December 2022 and the end of March 2023.
The EU will also “cap revenues at 180 euros/MWh for electricity generators” that “have made unexpectedly large financial gains over the past months, without their operational costs increasing,” the Council said in a press statement.
The decision touches on the so-called inframarginal technologies, such as renewables, nuclear, and lignite, and is applicable until June 30, 2023.
Also, fossil fuel producers will have to pay a solidarity contribution on their taxable profit that exceeds a 20% increase of the average yearly taxable profits since 2018.
According to the European Commission’s calculations, the levies will bring in a total of €140 billion ($136.6 billion) revenue that will be distributed among EU member states to support vulnerable households and businesses.
The decision has yet to be officially adopted after the political consensus.
The city of Achim in the German state of Lower Saxony announced Friday that there will be no more street lighting at night.
With this measure, Achim is following the example of other cities in an effort to save energy, as gas supplies from Russia have been interrupted due to tensions and recent explosions on the Nord Stream pipelines.
Mayor Rainer Ditzfeld said this move will likely draw criticisms, but they had to take this decision.
According to a statement by the city council, street lights will be switched off from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. local time from Sundays to Fridays.
On weekend nights, lights will be out from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m.
This would result in a savings of about 46%, the city council said.
Meanwhile, a survey by the employers' associations Nordmetall and AGV Nord showed that almost 25% of companies in the metal and electrical industry in northern Germany would have to stop production in the event of a gas emergency.
According to the survey, around half of the companies would have to put employees on short-time working.
Some 26% of respondents even said they would have to cut staff in such a situation.
Germany, the EU’s largest economy, is facing the biggest energy crisis ever, due to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.
Drinking water supplies and wastewater treatment plants will also be affected if Switzerland faces power outages due to the energy crisis, an official warned on Friday.
Many plants do not have separate power supply that will enable them to operate independent of the main grid, Stefan Muller-Altermatt, a member of the Swiss National Council, told local news outlet Nau.
Earlier, the Swiss government announced that drinking water and sewage treatment plants will be exempt from potential power cuts.
However, Muller-Altermatt underlined that this will not be technically possible everywhere, while also warning of the dangers to public safety.
“For example, the supply of water for firefighting also depends on drinking water. There you have to move the flaps – that needs a motor and, therefore, energy,” the politician stressed.
He said possible power cuts would cause serious issues in the wastewater treatment process.
“Four hours is probably still okay, but an eight-hour power cut would mean it stinks in quite a few basements,” he said.
Many European countries have been facing energy shortages since Russia significantly reduced natural gas supplies to Europe in response to sanctions over the Moscow-Kyiv war.
Russia temporarily halted gas deliveries via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline earlier this month, and Russian officials argued that the Western sanctions were hampering maintenance work for the turbines.