Residents of southwestern Norway had to brace for their highest electricity rates ever on Thursday, while their fellow Norwegians in the central and northern regions of the country were paying almost nothing. The reason: A lack of rain in the south continues to leave the reservoirs that help generate Norway’s hydroelectricity at just 65 percent of capacity.
While it’s frequently been pouring rain in the north this summer, the south has had to be careful with its electricity production. Since it’s not possible to reroute the north’s abundance because of power line capacity issues, Norwegian households and businesses in the southwest will have to pay NOK 4.22 per kilowatt hour, compared to just NOK 0.02 in the north.
It’s the first time electricity rates in Norway, which used to be low before the industry was deregulated, have ever surpassed NOK 4. It’s especially worrisome since such high rates are occurring during the summer, when electricity consumption is much lower than in the winter.
Some populist-oriented political parties are calling for restrictions or even an end to Norway’s electricity exports via cables to the UK and the European continent, to preserve Norway’s power supplies at home and reduce Norwegians’ soaring monthly bills. Others argue that most Norwegians can afford the higher bills, while the government (which profits on all high energy prices) will continue to offer compensation to households through the winter.