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Electricity suppliers exploit their monopoly on profits – News Economy: Business



If you live in the countryside in Zurich, electricity is delivered relatively cheaply to the house. In most places, a four-person household pays an average of CHF 270 per year for network charges. The supplier is a non-profit cooperative, Elektrizitätswerke der Kantons Zürich (EKZ).

Not so in the canton of Bern. In 205 municipalities, which receive electricity from the listed BKW electricity company, the same electricity supply costs around 520 francs in fees – almost twice as much. This huge difference makes us suspect because, according to the law, energy distributors are only allowed to charge "chargeable costs". In other words: Berkeley's BKW in Bern should be able to demonstrate in its network almost twice the ECC.

This is not the case, says an intern who worked for many years at a federal level. The main reason for such large differences depending on the community is the so-called synthesis evaluation of the electricity grid. Synthetic media are created artificially. And it is the same as this method. It is not based on invoice documents, but on artificial calculations. This makes them easy to handle: "Theoretically, network costs are not negotiable," says the expert, "but some vendors make their network accounts more profitable for their benefit than they should."

The Trick of 2008

Because this is the case and how powerful it can affect this, explains the interior. "When the new law entered into force in 2008, some utilities upgraded the grid and the household bill for investments that had been paid for a long time from electricity tariffs, so some communities run the risk of doubling the network "The trustee wants to remain anonymous because he works for such electricity providers.

A numerical example helps to understand his statement: 40 years ago, in 1967, an operator invested 40 million francs in power cables. He expects a lifetime of 40 years. Investments lose 1 million a year. This loss of value, the so-called copier, the operator charges the households. In 2007, the network should be zero, and the network tariff clean.

But then comes the year 2008, the new electricity law comes into force. Allows a new network rating. Installations that will work for another 20 years but have already been settled can now be artificially assessed. The network is worth more than 20 million francs. Each year one million is removed. The vendor may charge this validation to the electricity tariff for the second time.

Zoom in graphics

"It is true that electricity consumers paid the infrastructure for the second time at specific points," Elcom confirms. He knew this problem. This authority checks annually the network tariffs of 640 providers in Switzerland. "It is likely that in the past already underrated networks were reactivated and devalued again," he says. The Authority confirms the impact of the artificial assessment on the electricity tariff: "A significant part of the differences in the network termination between providers can be explained by the revaluation of the new law in 2008. It is the result of the synthetic network evaluation." Businesses that have been significantly upgraded have higher network rates. Businesses that charge real investment and costs have low rates, "said Elcom.

Significant influence

The impact of accounting synthetic networking is demonstrated by the introductory example of the cheap ECC of Zurich over the expensive Berner BKW. The ECC almost does not use synthetic accounting. It is "less than one percent of the investments," says the cooperative. BKW is different. He claims to have "synthetically assessed some of the assets", which he does not disclose. But according to a second source, BKW's "high network tariff is largely due to its synthesis."

BKW denies connection. On the contrary, it justifies, together with other providers, network tariffs with high manufacturing costs. Municipal electricity companies say that the construction of the lines is expensive there, because you have to tear streets and concrete canals. For example, the IWB in Basel responded. Rural electricity companies say they had to spend a lot of money on some households. Unstable weather makes maintenance and repair costly, says Bern BKW. As a result, their network fee should be comparatively high.

Emphasizes that network accounting is legal. "We have not made any assessments, the values ​​of BKW's assets have been tested by Elcom and have complied with the law." The authority does not comment on the case, and this has banned the law.


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The organization says that after the entry into force of the new law in 2008, it tried to limit the practice of artificial appreciation. "Elcom has adopted a more restrictive approach to network evaluation in the past," he says. Then came BKW, questioned this approach and won. "The federal court did not follow Elcom's approach, as evidenced by a verdict from July 2012. It is therefore possible that past undervalued networks can be reactivated and deleted again," the supervisor said.

BKW is not an isolated case. This person says the network rating leaves a lot of room for maneuver. "Almost everyone is optimizing their calculations." Power was largely powerless, because supervisors would know much more about their accounting than supervision. And this is confirmed by Elcom. An asymmetry of information lies in the nature of things: "It is a well-known, fundamental economic problem."

'Net dairy cow'

Tariffing of the network charge "depends to a large extent on the company and the owners". For some, "public service is excellent". For others, it's a return: "Some owners are seeking profit maximization and seeing the net as a dairy cow," says Elcom spokesman Simon Witschi.

This is true not only for the countryside but also for the cities. Network tariffs should be significantly lower in many places than today, because in the city the high cost per line is distributed across multiple links. This is shown by the following comparison: In Bern or in Vetzikon, a four-person household pays 321 francs a year, while in Winterthur he has to pay 440 francs – a quarter more. It is hard to imagine that line construction in Winterthur is 27% more expensive than in Bern. Therefore, other reasons must be price guidance.

Deputy Director of the International Energy Agency, Paul Simons, said in October that Swiss households and businesses "pay high prices due to high inefficiency." The aforementioned person does not currently see a solution: "There is a lot of fog at the end of the electricity grid and it will probably stay that way."

(Tamedia Editors)

Created: 05/11/2018, 06:28 clock


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