European Parliament Pushes for Power Source Transparency

STRASBOURG, France, March 14, 2002 (ENS) - Europe's electricity companies have condemned a European Parliament vote to make them tell consumers about the exact fuel mix behind the power they sell and the associated pollution and waste.

Industry lobby Eurelectric said the requirement, which Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) approved in Strasbourg yesterday, was "extreme and onerous." Green MEPs and environmentalists meanwhile welcomed it as a "giant step" toward shifting the balance of power away from large utilities in favor of consumers and the environment.

The clause appears in a draft bill aimed at fully liberalizing European Union electricity markets.


Ferrybridge Power Station C, a coal-fired power generator at Knottingley, West Yorkshire, UK (Photo by Ian Britton courtesy
Power suppliers would have to include in bills and promotional material a breakdown of the percentage contribution of each energy source to electricity delivered, plus the company's overall fuel mix over the previous six months.

They would also have to indicate how this mix contributed to emissions of greenhouse gases, fine particulates, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides plus nuclear waste generation.

The rules would enable consumers to make an "informed choice" of power supplier, said parliament's rapporteur, Claude Turmes, a Green Party member.

Chris Boothby of Eurelectric said the parliament's proposal is "disproportionate to the value of the information it would provide." Gathering information is "extremely difficult and in worst cases infeasible," he said.

Giulio Volpi of the conservation group WWF disagrees, saying such disclosure is "technically feasible and economically viable." Austria, the Netherlands and Switzerland are already preparing to implement similar requirements, he claims.


MEP Claude Turmes of Luxembourg (Photo courtesy Green Party)
The issue is set to be a major talking point at this weekend's European Union summit in Barcelona, Spain.

In other amendments Members of the European Parliament voted to ban nuclear utilities from using funds built up to pay for reactor dismantling as financial guarantees for other activities.

Turmes said the move is aimed at stopping the "predatory activities" of German and French firms that have built up dominant market positions contrary to EU competition rules.

The amendments now pass for debate by EU governments. The law's whole future hangs in the balance due to opposition from France, which is thought unlikely to change its stance at least until after elections due next month and in June.


{Published in cooperation with ENDS Environment Daily, Europe's choice for environmental news. Environmental Data Services Ltd, London. Email:}.