“Energy supply is a public good – and not a source of maximum profit.”
The Carinthian state utility KELAG has carried out its threat. Hundreds of customers are having their electricity turned off these days because they have not concluded a new collective agreement - increased by 90 percent. Sharp criticism of this came from the globalization-critical network Attac at a press conference in Klagenfurt today. Attac calls for the buyback and democratization of KELAG. The KELAG scandal also reveals a fundamental problem, namely the failure of liberalization and the profit orientation of our energy supply.
“KELAG is one of the biggest beneficiaries of the crisis. It made a profit of 2022 million euros in 214 and even doubled the 2023 half-year result compared to 263 to 2022 million euros. “Nevertheless, it is now leaving people in the dark – and some in the cold too,” criticizes Jacqueline Jerney from Attac Kärnten/Koroška. “The enormous profits show that, from a purely business perspective, it would of course be possible to offer lower prices.”
The basic need for energy is subject to profit maximization and speculation
For Attac, KELAG's approach is a symptom of a fundamental problem. Although our energy suppliers are largely publicly owned, they do not work with a public interest in mind. “The liberalization and privatization of energy supply in Europe is responsible for this. It has subjected our basic need for energy to profit maximization and speculation. Instead of affordable energy, security of supply and climate justice, corporate law and profits take precedence. As a direct result, energy poverty has increased massively in recent years,” criticizes Attac energy expert Max Hollweg. Rising energy prices are also the main driver of record inflation.
Anchor non-profit status in law - energy prices must be based on production costs
With the campaign “Democratize energy supply!” Attac shows solutions: “A buyback of KELAG by the state is the prerequisite for democratizing the energy supply. Attac calls for real democratic control of energy companies by a committee made up of employees, civil society, politics and science.
Energy suppliers must also operate on a non-profit basis. “This requires the legal anchoring of security of supply, affordability and climate justice - i.e. non-profit status as the primary goal of their activities - similar to non-profit housing,” demands Jerney. “The producers’ energy prices should be based on the production costs and not, as is currently the case, dependent on the price of gas,” explains Hollweg. At the same time, energy prices should not be dependent on speculative futures and non-transparent energy exchanges. All of this requires a fundamental move away from liberalization.
Another Attac requirement is this energy requirement. Similar to the electricity price brake, a certain basic need of all households should be covered cheaply. Wasteful luxury consumption, on the other hand, should be made more expensive by increasing energy tariffs. “Science tells us clearly that our energy consumption must decrease in the face of the climate crisis,” explains Hollweg.
Already on November 3, 2023, activists from Attac Kärnten unrolled a 16-meter-high banner with the inscription “Democratize energy supply!” at the Klagenfurt city parish tower. (IMAGE, video)
A corresponding petition from Attac with 4 demands on politicians is already supported by around 2500 people.
Photo / Video: Attac Austria.