EU approves power back-up schemes in Germany, France, others

European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager holds a news conference at the EU Commission's headquarters in Brussels, Belgium October 4, 2017. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - EU state aid regulators approved on Wednesday power back-up schemes in Germany, France and four other EU countries, saying that these would ensure security supply in the event of blackouts.

The European Commission said the electricity capacity mechanisms comply with the bloc’s rules aimed at ensuring a level playing field. The other four countries are Belgium, Greece, Italy and Poland.

“Capacity mechanisms can help to safeguard security of electricity supply, but they must be designed so as to avoid distortions of competition in energy markets,” European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.

The Commission said the schemes in Germany and Belgium are temporary strategic reserves which are available only in emergencies. Italy and Poland were cleared to set up market-wide schemes to offset structural security of supply problems.

The schemes in France and Greece pay users to reduce their power consumption in hours when electricity is scarce.

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee