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Czech minister wants power price limits for industry as part of broader help

·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: EU finance ministers meeting in Brussels

PRAGUE (Reuters) - The Czech government will look at putting a limit on industrial electricity bills at the same time as it caps prices for households and state institutions to help them get through the energy crisis, Finance Minister Zbynek Stanjura said on Sunday.

The centre-right government is readying more measures to go alongside European Union plans to ease the burden of soaring energy prices after an emergency meeting of the bloc's energy ministers on Friday.

The Czech government is due to meet on Monday to discuss its own plans.

"I am for a bold solution," Stanjura said on Czech Television's Sunday debate show, referring to guaranteeing electricity prices for industry.

He backed the move "even with the possible risk that it will be assessed that there was some unauthorized support," he added, in a possible reference to EU competition and aid rules.

This step could be in place by the end of the year and would last up to two years, he told the show. He added that a price limit of around 200 euro per MWh - well below market prices seen in the last month - would be a good ceiling for companies.

The help will come together with plans for households and state institutions.

Stanjura said the government was likely to set a maximum end price that households can be charged for electricity. He added compensation for power producers amid caps was also unlikely as they would still cover costs and keep reasonable profits.

In the state sector, the government wants to ensure supplies at reasonable prices for places like schools, hospitals or other public institutions, Stanjura said.

To achieve this, he said legislation to mandate electricity producers to sell a certain amount to the state, less than 20% of their output, would be necessary.

Stanjura told daily Hospodarske Noviny last week that national plans could cost up to 130 billion crowns ($5.3 billion) and would run alongside EU measures.

On Friday, EU energy ministers tasked the bloc's executive with drafting proposals within a few days to cap the revenues of non-gas energy producers and help power firms stay afloat as they sought a united response to tame soaring energy costs.

($1 = 24.4260 Czech crowns)

(Reporting by Jason Hovet; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Raissa Kasolowsky)