The European Commission yesterday fined three electricity trading platforms in France, Norway and Romania €7 million (£5.7m) in total for anti-competitive behaviour.
The EU competition watchdog handed out a €2.33 million (£1.91m) fine to Norwegian spot power exchange Nord Pool Spot (NPS) and a €3.65 million (£3m) fine to Paris-based EPEX Spot for an agreement not to compete with each other for at least seven months in 2011 and 2012.
“Such behaviour breaches EU antitrust rules that prohibit cartels and restrictive practices”, the Commission said.
Power exchanges are markets for trading electricity and spot trading applies to trading in the short run, such as within the same day or for the next day.
Both the firms however got a fine reduction of 10% each for agreeing to settle the case with the Commission.
It also imposed a fine of just over €1 million (£0.8m) on Romanian power exchange operator OPCOM for “preventing EU traders from joining the Romanian power exchange’s spot markets” between 2008 and 2013.
Joaquín Almunia, Commission Vice-President in charge of competition policy said: “These decisions are significant because power exchanges are central to the efficient functioning of electricity markets in the best interests of consumers.
“Anticompetitive practices at this level can seriously disrupt and distort electricity markets. This is why preserving healthy competition between power exchanges and between traders contributes to ensuring that electricity markets operate as efficiently as they should. Ultimately, this prevents consumers from paying unjustified and unnecessary extra costs. This matters at a time when most European citizens are concerned by their rising electricity bills.”
Electricity worth more than €40 billion (£32.8bn) was traded on Europe’s spot exchanges in 2012.