LONDON, June 3 The heads of Europe's struggling
utilities called on lawmakers to speed up legislative changes
that they say would help them cope better with a drop in power
prices and demand.
Traditional European energy companies have so far failed to
reinvent themselves to operate in a new energy world where high
renewable output has depressed prices and expensive gas has made
their power stations unprofitable.
Speaking at the annual conference of Europe's electricity
association on Tuesday, executives called on the European
Commission and national governments to speed up decision-making
on schemes such as a stronger carbon support mechanism or
European nations are currently debating whether to make
payments to standby power plants to make them available for
electricity production when wind farms or solar panels fail to
A capacity mechanism, which is already being introduced in
Britain from 2018, would guarantee owners of power plants future
revenue provided they have been successful at auction.
"Capacity mechanism systems are needed to ensure energy
security," said Jean-Francois Cirelli, whose utility GDF Suez
in France took a 15 billion euro writedown on its gas
storage and power plants businesses in 2013.
Oystein Loseth, chief executive of Swedish utility
Vattenfall, said he wanted to see the European Union
agree on a 2030 target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, a
policy that will determine what types of energy sources
utilities invest in for the future.
Loseth, who will step down from his role at the beginning of
October, said utilities will continue to face current market
conditions until at least 2020.
"We have to adapt and accept that this is the new norm.
Everyone has to find their own opportunities in this situation,"
he told Reuters on the sidelines of the conference.
Vattenfall reported a full-year loss in 2013 after booking
impairments of 30 billion Swedish crowns ($4.49 billion) related
to its conventional power plants in the Netherlands.
Johannes Teyssen, chief executive of Germany's E.ON
, said he hoped the European Commission's proposal to
prop up the region's carbon market by holding or releasing
carbon permits would be pushed through before a new set of
Commissioners takes over in November.
Europe's utilities need quick decision-making at European
and national levels to be able to make decisions about the
future direction of their companies.
"Our main problem now is one of momentum. Things need to
move fairly quickly to ensure that we, industrial investors,
have a stable framework," said Henri Proglio, chief executive of
($1 = 6.6841 Swedish Kronas)
(Reporting by Karolin Schaps; Editing by Erica Billingham)