8 August 2002 – A report released on Monday by international Research Associates (IRNA) says that Danish consumers paid the highest electricity prices in Europe last year.

In its latest report on residential and commercial customers, the research group surveyed the 15 members of the European Union which have agreed to open up their electricity markets, as well as the Czech Republic, Hungary and Switzerland, which have also started deregulating their power sectors.

EU members such as Britain, Finland, Sweden, Germany and Austria have opened their markets 100 per cent, while the rest have initially only allowed large commercial users to switch power suppliers.

Denmark had the highest prices in the 18-country survey, as taxes added as much 66 per cent to consumers’ bills, INRA said.

Danish charges up to four taxes on bills including a power distribution tax and an environmental tax designed to curb electricity demand and promote the use of green energy.

Danish households using between 2000 and 7000 kilowatt hours (KWh) a year paid 20.56 eurocents ($0.203) per KWh, of which 4.12 cents were tax.

Similar-sized households in Greece paid the lowest fees of 6.2 cents, including the lowest tax of 0.46 cents.

“In many cases, the difference in electricity prices paid by customers is due to taxes,” INRA said in its report.

After Denmark, the highest prices paid by similar-sized households were in the Netherlands (19.21 cents), followed by Italy (16.5 cents), Austria (15.03) and Switzerland (14.92).

Germany, the largest electricity market in Europe, was ranked sixth most expensive at 14.91 cents, while France, where households paid 11.53 cents, was ranked tenth.

Prices in France, which has been criticised for its slow opening of its power sector, were only slightly higher than the fully deregulated British market where residential consumers paid 11.41 cents.

In the non-residential sector, where liberalisation was more extensive, prices were lower as value added tax (VAT) can be recovered and so was excluded in the survey.

Industrial clients which consumed between one and nine GWh annually paid the most in Denmark (13.95 eurocents per KWh) and the least in Sweden (2.58 cents).

Similar-sized consumers in Switzerland paid the second highest at 10.63 cents, Italy the third (9.43 cents), followed by Belgium (8.49).

France ranked eleventh at 5.99 cents, Germany fourteenth at 5.85 cents and Britain at 5.38 cents. Both residential and industrial prices reported by INRA include fees for transmission, distribution and other fixed costs.