City of Vienna Establishes Energy Crisis Unit

PeopleOther ♦ Published: October 17, 2022; 19:38 ♦ (Vindobona)

The City of Vienna established an advisory committee on energy supply, which will work as a crisis unit on energy supply issues. Together with the crisis unit that has existed since the Covid pandemic, it is to accompany the preparations for the winter and make proposals for measures to secure energy supplies.

The Vienna Energy Crisis Staff calls for more cooperation between the federal states and the federal government. / Picture: © Wikimedia Commons; Ogre, CC BY 3.0

The city government of Vienna is setting up an energy crisis team due to the energy crisis and rising energy prices announced Economic Councillor Peter Hanke (SPÖ). The energy supply in Vienna is secured, but forward-looking action is necessary, Hanke emphasized. Statistically, Viennese citizens are only affected by a power failure for 18 minutes per year, Hanke explained.

The crisis team of the City of Vienna has therefore been analyzing the situation of supply security in weekly meetings since spring 2022. The City of Vienna is prepared for various developments, but in doing so, like all other federal states, it is dependent on information and decision-making bases from the federal government.

Economic Councillor Peter Hanke, therefore, renews the appeal to the Austrian federal government to pull together, enter into talks with the provinces and inform them in detail about the federal emergency plans. "Securing the energy supply is a clear federal competence. No representatives* of the states are currently involved in the daily crisis team of the Ministry of Energy. What happens in the event of an energy emergency is therefore not sufficiently clear for the states. What we need now is planning security," Hanke demands.

Security of energy supply and blackout risk in Vienna

The Vienna supply area is one of the most secure in the world. Security of supply is 99.99%, according to an annual survey by the state regulatory authority E-Control. According to E-Control, the latest figures on the subject of supply security show that statistically speaking, the Viennese were only affected by an electricity disruption for just under 18 minutes a year. This is even an improvement over the previous year and a top value internationally, according to Peter Hanke.

This high level of supply security is only possible through planning, regular investment and a strategic, considered expansion of the networks, Hanke affirmed.

The risks of a blackout are low, he said. However, further precautions are now to be taken with an advisory committee made up of experts from within the city. The committee includes representatives from the municipal council, the city's construction department, the municipal utilities, the fire department and the rescue service.

The new energy crisis unit

Since the beginning of the Corona crisis, the crisis team of the City of Vienna has met at least once a week, depending on the urgency. With the start of the Ukraine war and the associated challenges in Vienna, this crisis team is also entrusted with sound analyses and recommendations on the subject of energy supply security. To prepare even better for the coming winter, Mayor Michael Ludwig has now commissioned City Councillor for Economic Affairs Hanke to set up an additional advisory body made up of the most important experts within the city for energy supply in Vienna.

The panel will start its work promptly and meet regularly. "The expert panel will be guided by the federal government's phased plan for energy control measures as well as the ongoing analyses of the city's crisis management team and will develop proposals for measures adapted to the respective supply situation," explains Hanke.

Government's stage plan for energy consumption in the coming winter

Since March, Austria has been in Stage 1, the "early warning stage". Due to the aggravated situation around gas supplies, the increasing cases of suspected sabotage of gas pipelines to Europe and the current developments around the Ukraine war, the declaration of the alert level is also expected for Austria. Germany already took this step last summer.

The law provides for the declaration of the "alert level" (level 2) when the probability of a deterioration in the gas supply situation increases. This involves calls for savings on gas, and the industry is urged to bring alternatives to natural gas into use.

The "emergency level" (Level 3) would be declared when the current energy demand can no longer be met. The allocation of gas reserves that would then be required would be the exclusive responsibility of the federal government. The supply of "protected customers," first and foremost all households, always has top priority.

The Energy Steering Act of the Federal Government takes precautions to ensure that a system of measures is prepared in Austria to be able to maintain the energy supply for the population in the event of a shortage. Vienna, like all the provinces, is committed to its duties under the Austrian Energy Steering Act, and the provinces are already making the necessary preparations in their areas. As the responsible minister, however, Federal Energy Minister Gewessler in particular should provide information as soon as possible on the responsibilities in the event of an emergency and provide information on exactly when which steering measures could be taken.

City of Vienna