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'We made a mistake': Swiss town sees electricity prices soar by 263 percent

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The Local ([email protected])
'We made a mistake': Swiss town sees electricity prices soar by 263 percent
An energy customer examines her electricity meter in her flat. (Photo by Susannah Ireland / AFP)

Electricity prices are rising in Switzerland, but nowhere as much as in one municipality in the Aargau canton - and it's all because of a mistake by officials.

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As The Local reported on Wednesday, energy costs will increase in Switzerland by between 20 and 60 percent in 2023, depending on the place of residence, the size of the dwelling, and the electricity supplier.

This is not just a Swiss phenomenon; prices are increasing worldwide due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, the predicted gas shortage, and inflation. In Swiss regions such as Vaud, Lausanne and Geneva, prices are set to increase by between 49 percent for the vast majority of household customers but up to 61 percent for some specific modes of consumption.

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READ ALSO: Which Swiss cantons will see the biggest hikes in electricity bills?

However, even those hikes seem low when compared to the price of electricity in the Swiss municipality of Oberlunkhofen in Aargau, where costs have risen by an eye-watering 263 percent. For an average household, this means additional annual costs of over CHF 2,000.

How is this possible?

“We made a mistake”, said Hans Hagenbuch, president of the local electricity distribution cooperative Elektra.

He explained that the company had long-term contracts to buy electricity on the open market, benefiting from relatively low rates all along.

READ ALSO: READER QUESTION: What are the rules on heating my Swiss home this winter?

When the price of 1 kilowatt of gasoline reached 30 cents this summer, Elektra decided to buy a supply at this price. However, someone had forgotten to place the order.

By the time the error was discovered, the price of electricity had tripled.

“It was absolutely not intentional”, Hagenbuch said, adding that “all we can do now is own up to our mistake and provide the public with honest information about how events unfolded”.

"We could never have expected something like this. It was a disaster", he added.

No doubt local residents will agree.

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