Finland has come out the wrong side of a disagreement between it and its Scandinavian neighbours on how to plan for a new system to balance electricity supply and demand in the region.

Negotiations have broken down between Norway, Sweden and the Finns over power trading arrangements designed to counter imbalance between supply and demand on their collective power grids.
The grids must currently agree unanimously how to smooth out the flows, however earlier this year, grid operators proposed taking decisions by majority vote, a change they say will ensure the future reliability of supply as demand grows.

Finland opposed the idea, saying it is illegal under European Union rules. Five months of negotiations failed to find a solution.

Stripped of a veto, Finland is concerned it may have no say on who produces the balancing power, possibly favouring Scandinavian power plants, as Finnish ones tend to be costlier.

If the Scandinavian plan wins EU approval, it could make it more difficult for Finland to deal with short-term fluctuations in demand.

The Swedish grid operator announced the decision on Tuesday to press ahead without Finland.

“In the new Scandinavian balancing model… Svenska Kraftnat and (Norwegian grid operator) Statnett will maintain the current coordinating role for operation of the power system,” Svenska Kraftnat said in a statement.

“We regret that Fingrid has decided not to join the new cooperation… the Scandinavian TSOs (transmission system operators) aim for collaboration, not isolation,” it added.

Fingrid will submit its own proposal that suggests keeping the current Nordic system unchanged for some time, its senior vice president Asta Sihvonen-Punkka told Reuters on Tuesday.

Finland imports up to a fifth of its electricity consumption at times of peak winter demand, and being alone could create uncertainty for its security of power supply, crucial for its energy-hungry industrial sector.

Helsinki also faces the prospect of compensating for end of life scenarios for many of its combined heat and power plants, which had been producing one third of its electricity, shielding the country from blackouts during cold winters.

The decision now goes before the European Union’s Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER), which would act as mediator.

If that fails, it could ask for the European Commission’s help to break the deadlock.The deadline for making a common single proposal between the Nordic grid operators is January 14th.