Two out of three Norwegians worried about electricity and food prices

The prices of food, electricity and fuel have increased sharply, at the same time as interest rates are increasing.

Reduced electricity prices are unlikely to be in sight anytime soon. NVE has not measured such a low degree of filling in the water reservoirs in South-West and East Norway for 20 years, while the demand for electricity is at a record high.

According to section manager of NVE, Ann Myhrer Østenby, there are two reasons in particular why the prices are now high.

– In southern Norway, there has been significantly less rainfall in the past year than is normal. In addition, there is a crisis in Europe which means that the countries around us cannot produce enough energy for their needs, and then they need help from us, says Østenby.

– Blowing from many sides

And the high electricity prices make Norwegians uneasy, according to a recent survey carried out by Norstat for the Norwegian Automobile Association (NAF).

It shows that 63 per cent of Norwegians are concerned about electricity prices. Just as many fear the increased food prices, while over half of the population is worried about the high fuel prices.

– Many people are worried because it is blowing from many sides. There are increased interest rates, increased food prices, there are persistently high electricity prices, and then there is the diesel price that does not go down, says press manager at NAF, Ingunn Handagard.

UNREST: – A lot of people are worried because it’s blowing from many sides, says press manager at NAF, Ingunn Handagard. Photo: Aage Aune / TV 2

The survey also shows that only six percent believe that the government will introduce measures to reduce fuel prices.

– It is a remarkably low figure, and it should worry the government, says Handagard.

– Lacks action

The editor-in-chief of Nettavisen, Gunnar Stavrum, believes the government has far from done enough to reduce prices.

– Totally absent. It is the least effective government we have seen in modern times.

Stavrum believes the government should increase the electricity subsidy as soon as possible.

CALLS FOR ACTION: Editor-in-chief of Nettavisen, Gunnar Stavrum, believes the government should increase electricity subsidies immediately.  Photo: Aage Aune / TV 2

CALLS FOR ACTION: Editor-in-chief of Nettavisen, Gunnar Stavrum, believes the government should increase electricity subsidies immediately. Photo: Aage Aune / TV 2

– It must happen immediately, and should have happened a long time ago. In practice, you should have a maximum price for electricity, remove the value-added tax on electricity in southern Norway and look at line rents as well, because electricity is far too expensive in Norway now, says Stavrum.

– Do you think the government can survive with the current price of food, electricity and fuel?

– No. If I had been a strategist in the Conservative Party or the Progressive Party, I would have rubbed my hands every day, because it is not possible to see the extent of awkwardness, says Stavrum.

Under pressure

On Tuesday, all of the country’s Ap mayors sat in a digital meeting, together with, among others, Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre and Oil and Energy Minister Terje Aasland. The topic was the electricity crisis.

The mayors’ main concern was the business world.

– We are very worried about the business world, and especially small and medium-sized companies, which do not have the opportunity to secure good, long-term contracts. They took this signal very clearly. I am of the opinion that the government is working hard to overcome this here. But it is complex, said the mayor of Farsund, Arnt Abrahamsen, after the meeting.

Wednesday reported The daily newspaper that the government confirms that the companies receive electricity support.

– There will be electricity support for vulnerable companies, said Oil and Energy Minister Terje Aasland to the newspaper.

WANT TO SPEED UP: The Conservative Party wants the electricity subsidy to take effect from 1 September - a month earlier than what Støre's government has proposed.  Photo: Thomas Evensen / TV 2

WANT TO SPEED UP: The Conservative Party wants the electricity subsidy to take effect from 1 September – a month earlier than what Støre’s government has proposed. Photo: Thomas Evensen / TV 2

At the same time, Høyre, Rødt, SV and Frp have called for an urgent convening of the Storting to find agreement on further electricity support.

The Conservative Party will pick up the pace on the government’s plan to increase the electricity subsidy for private households to 90 per cent of all costs over 70 øre.

– Right now we believe that the price has been high throughout the summer, and that speeding up the support scheme will therefore be the fastest measure, said party leader Erna Solberg to TV 2 on Wednesday.

In Høyre’s proposal, the electricity subsidy will take effect from 1 September – i.e. one month earlier than what Støre’s government has proposed.

– A crisis

On Thursday, Støre told TV 2 that the government has prioritized looking at the electricity subsidy.

– We are working with an electricity subsidy scheme for families. At the same time as we are looking at how we can ensure that the water reservoirs are filled up, there will be more or less no exports until the degree of filling reaches a reasonable level.

CRISIS: - We are now in a crisis, says Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre.  Photo: Daniel Sannum Lauten / TV 2

CRISIS: – We are now in a crisis, says Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre. Photo: Daniel Sannum Lauten / TV 2

In addition, the government is now looking at support schemes for companies.

– Which companies will it apply to?

– Many companies in the business world have entered into long-term contracts for power, and they are well looked after. But then there are many who do not, for example small and medium-sized businesses linked to the price areas that now have the highest prices. Those are the ones we are particularly concerned about, says Støre.

He points out that they will find solutions that are reliable and that do not increase the pressure on the Norwegian economy further. When asked when the solution will be in place, Støre replies that it “may well happen” that the government delivers a plan for a support scheme during August:

– It is also possible to adopt something in the autumn that can have retroactive effect.

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