Right to know for EU electricity consumers
Consumers have the right to know if their electricity is clean or dirty. Preusselectric power plant in Wabern, Germany.
The issue of disclosure of electricity information on electicity bills is one of four major points in the proposed EU directive on further energy market liberalisation, to be decided by today's Energy Council. In March 2002, the European Parliament approved an amendment that would force energy companies to disclose the sources of power sold to consumers and the associated pollution impacts, including CO2 emissions and nuclear waste. But the Danish Presidency text, which has to be approved by today's Energy Council, proposes to reveal sources of power sold to consumers, but not inform on pollution impacts.
"There is no justification to deny citizens clear and comprehensive information about the environmental impacts of the electricity they consume," said Giulio Volpi, of WWF's Climate Change Programme. "Consumers should be able to know if the power they get comes from polluting coal or nuclear power stations, or instead clean renewable energies, such as wind and solar."
Power plants burning brown coal (lignite) emit more than one kilogram of carbon dioxide (CO2) — the main global warming gas — for every kilowatt-hour of electricity they generate. Nuclear plants create toxic wastes that must be securely stored for tens of thousands of years. In comparison, a power plant using renewable energies or highly efficient technologies — such as cogeneration — produce no long-living waste and contribute to a net reduction in CO2 emissions.
Disclosure of electricity information was initially proposed by the European Commission and is currently implemented in Austria and 11 US states. According to a recent EU-funded study, the disclosure of electricity sources and their environmental impact on consumers' power bills would cost less than €1 per year for an average European household.
For further information:
Press Officer, WWF European Policy Office
Tel.: +32 2 740 09 25
WWF Climate Policy Officer
Tel.: + 32 2 743 8818