September 11, 2019 / 8:30 AM / 7 days ago

Poland's energy minister says power prices must stay under control

WARSAW, Sept 11 (Reuters) - Poland’s energy minister, Krzysztof Tchorzewski, said on Wednesday that the country would have to maintain controls on electricity prices to secure economic competitiveness.

The ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) imposed a cap on household power tariffs this year in an effort to prevent a spike triggered by gains in carbon emissions costs and coal prices.

A PiS plan to freeze 2019 power prices for companies and the public sector failed because the European Commission raised concerns, but the government instead proposed compensation for the biggest energy consumers hurt by increased tariffs.

“This competitiveness, which we have secured in 2019 ... has contributed to gains in many export sectors. So we will have to keep electricity prices under control from the social point of view,” Tchorzewski told public broadcaster TVP Info.

Asked whether power prices would rise from Jan. 1, when the current cap on household tariffs expires, Tchorzewski said: “Today it is difficult to predict.” He added: “We will do our best so that our citizens and entrepreneurs are competitive.”

Next year’s power prices may become a hot-button issue ahead of a general election in October, just as they were before local elections in 2018, when PiS promised to freeze them.

Reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko; Editing by Dale Hudson

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