Verbund tight-lipped about prices

Austria’s leading electricity provider will not reveal its decision on possible price increases before the first quarter of next year.

Verbund AG pointed out yesterday (Thurs) that it did not raise its consumer prices this year. It added that information about price developments for next year will not be announced before the first three months of 2012.

The company, which has over 250,000 private customers, dominates the domestic electricity market. The Republic of Austria has a 51 per cent interest in the Viennese firm through ÖIAG, the Federal Industry-Holding Stock Corporation.

Verbund said yesterday that it achieved a turnover of 2.8 billion Euros in the first three quarters of the this year, 16.7 per cent more than in the same period of 2010. Company boss Wolfgang Anzengruber called for a reform of gas contract regulations, claiming that there is demand for gas plants across Europe. He said the price for gas should not be automatically linked with oil prices.

Verbund was forced to downgrade the value of a recently constructed gas plantation in Mellach, Styria. At the same time, its Austrian hydropower facilities rose in value due to the German government’s decision to abstain from using nuclear technology to produce energy within the next 11 years.

Verbund, which is part of joint ventures in France, Turkey and Albania, has always focused on hydropower technology. Its promise to keep electricity prices stable in the remaining months of this year follows news of soaring oil prices. The price for heating oil shot up by 20 per cent from September 2010 to September 2011. Gas cost 11 per cent more in Austria last month than in the same month of the previous year. The average price for one kilowatt hour (KWh) of electricity remained stable.

Verbund may benefit from increased interest in electric mobility. Anzengruber told the Kurier newspaper yesterday that electric cars (e-cars) could be established in Austria in 2025 despite experts’ warnings that the country still struggles to catch up with global developments in this area.

“E-cars will either be just a bit of fun or something affecting the masses,” Anzengruber said. The Verbund chief underlined that, when being asked 30 years ago, hardly anyone saw themselves using a computer these days. Only 112 e-cars were acquired in Austria in 2010 when nearly 329,000 cars were bought and registered altogether.

Federal and provincial lawmakers have agreed on various subsidisation projects to convince more people of buying e-cars. However, many traffic experts do not predict a significant increase in their figures anytime soon due to unsolved questions regarding their price, the durability of batteries and other aspects of the vehicles.