On February 24, 2022, the Swedish parliament voted to approve a Finance Committee proposal from the government to amend the 2022 Swedish state budget to include 7.5 billion Swedish kronor (SEK) (about US$778 million) earmarked for compensating households for unusually high electricity prices during the winter of 2021–22.
The committee proposal specified that the budget item “Chapter 21 Energy” would be increased by SEK7.5 billion to cover a new item, “1:12 Compensation for high electricity costs.” Per the proposal, these funds may be used to compensate households with particularly high electricity consumption from December 2021 through February 2022, as well as to compensate power companies and Kammarkollegiet (the Legal, Financial and Administrative Services Agency) for their respective administrative costs associated with distributing the compensation.
Not all Swedish households will qualify for the compensation. Only households with an electricity consumption exceeding 700 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per month in December 2021, January 2022, and/or February 2022 will be compensated, capping the compensation at SEK2,000 (about US$207) per month for those with the highest electricity costs. The exact threshold scheme for compensation may be decided by the government agency, with the lowest compensation set at SEK100 (about US$10) for those who used 700 kWh per month. Households that qualify will not need to apply for the compensation; it will be applied directly by the power companies retroactively.
The electricity compensation scheme received mixed reviews in the parliament. During the debate, members of the opposition parties, including Elisabeth Svantesson (Moderate Party), advocated in favor of the opposition’s counterproposal to instead eliminate the electricity tax for two months during the period of high costs, which would reduce the cost of electricity for all consumers. She also blamed the high electricity costs on the phaseout of several Swedish nuclear power plant reactors. The government, on the other hand, stressed that reducing the tax was administratively not possible and that under the current scheme, the households that will be compensated will receive more than under the opposition’s proposal.
Villaägarnas Riksförbund (the Swedish Homeowners Association) has criticized the compensation scheme for basing the compensation on the use of electricity rather than the price of electricity, thus failing to take into account that some electricity users have elected fixed electricity price contracts and therefore paid less during the winter months of 2021–22.
In addition, members of Hyresgästföreningen (the Swedish Union of Tenants) claim that the policy unfairly punishes those who conscientiously kept their energy consumption low while rewarding those who did not. Their main point of criticism, as reported by the union, is that those who purchase their electricity from a landlord rather than an energy company would not be covered by the compensation, irrespective of the amount of electricity they use.In addition to the compensation for high electricity prices, the approved proposal also provides for compensation related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including monetary compensation to companies that have suffered financial hardship during the pandemic and retained employees under reduced work schedules (korttidsarbete).