Italy working on measures to curb power prices - minister

Electricity masts are seen at the sunset in Milan's neighborhood, Italy, February 21, 2016. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini/File Photo

MILAN, Sept 16 (Reuters) - Italy will introduce short-term measures to offset the expected rise in retail power prices and is working on a longer-term reform of power bills, energy transition minister Roberto Cingolani said on Thursday.

"About 80% of the rise comes from gas," the minister told Rai Radio 1, indicating the short-term measures could be worth some 3 billion euros ($3.5 billion).

On Monday Cingolani said retail power prices in Italy were set to rise by 40% in the next quarter, driven by higher international gas prices and carbon permit costs. read more

Governments across Europe are coming under pressure to curb energy bills to help families and small businesses as economies slowly emerge from the coronavirus pandemic.

Asked about recent measures taken by Spain to reduce power prices and if Italy could follow suit, Cingolani said the two countries were very different.

"It is not easy to translate strategies from one country to another," he said.

On Tuesday Spain passed emergency measures to reduce sky-high energy bills by redirecting billions of euros in extraordinary profits from energy companies to consumers and capping increases in gas prices.

Those measures include plans to limit the profits that hydropower and other renewable power generators can make from surging electricity prices.

The news sent shares in Spanish utilities into a tailspin and also triggered a sharp fall in shares in Italy's biggest utility Enel (ENEI.MI), which controls Spain's Endesa (ELE.MC), on fears Rome could take similar drastic measures.

Enel shares recovered somewhat in early Thursday trade, up 1.4% at 0725 GMT.

($1 = 0.8482 euros)

Reporting by Stephen Jewkes and Francesca Piscioneri, editing by Giulia Segreti and Emelia Sithole-Matarise

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