After a winter with little snow and a spring with hardly any rain so far, Norwegians are being warned to brace for sky-high electricity rates this summer that are likely to set another record. Oslo, meanwhile, is still facing serious water shortages.
The so-called “perfect storm” of factors leading to this winter’s stunning monthly electricity bills in Norway just keeps gaining strength. Russia’s war on Ukraine is keeping oil and gas prices high, there’s been little wind to generate power from turbines, and now all the sun shining down on Norway is turning from a blessing to a curse. Norwegians have been flocking outdoors this week to enjoy all the sunshine and unusually warm weather, but it has a downside.
“Electricity rates have stayed at a very high level because of the war in Ukraine and underlying high gas and coal prices,” Ror Reier Lilleholt, chief analyst at Volue Insight, told newspaper Aftenposten on Friday. At the same time, the lack of snow means there’s not enough to melt and fill up reservoirs in the mountains that are supposed to generate Norway’s once cheap and plentiful hydroelectric power.
“We’re expecting rates between NOK 1.50 to NOK 2 per kilowatt hour in Southern Norway this summer,” Lilleholt said. In addition come all of Norway’s energy taxes and the price of power distribution (called nettleie on monthly bills). Lilleholt noted that electricity consumption always dives in the summer, so most bills will fall, but rates will remain high enough to trigger more state compensation for households when rates exceed NOK 0.70 per kWh. Solar energy can help, but another unusually hot summer will raise the cost of air conditioning for those Norwegians who have it.
In Oslo, meanwhile, meteorologists could report record low precipitation between February 25 and April 21. Over the 56-day period measure, they measured only 13.2 millimeters of precipitation, the lowest level since April 1974.
The dry spell has raised forest fire danger, with one breaking out in the hills above Oslo Friday afternoon, and renewed calls by city officials to cut water use. The capital’s main drinking water supply, the lake called Maridalsvannet, is now down to 66 percent of capacity. If it doesn’t start raining soon and consumption isn’t cut, the city warns it will need to impose water restrictions.