House­holds to get an ‘elec­tric shock’

Elec­tric­ity bills spike by 33% in just two years as state fails to go green

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - CYPRUS - By Kyr­i­a­cos Kil­iaris

Cypriot con­sumers are in up­roar over new in­creases in the price of elec­tric­ity, while en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists blame the sit­u­a­tion on the gov­ern­ment’s lack of a green en­ergy pol­icy.

The hike comes on top of other in­creases over the past few years, with elec­tric­ity prices spik­ing by al­most a third since Oc­to­ber 2016.

Con­sumers are to re­ceive an­other “elec­tric shock” as an in­crease of 6.72% will be slapped on bills for the months of Au­gust-Oc­to­ber, a pe­riod dur­ing which elec­tric­ity con­sump­tion was at its high­est due to the high tem­per­a­tures pre­vail­ing in Cyprus.

Ac­cord­ing to data re­leased by the Elec­tric­ity Au­thor­ity of Cyprus, the in­crease is cal­cu­lated tak­ing as base av­er­age house­holds con­sum­ing around 800 kWh.

Mean­while, en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists have crit­i­cised the EAC and the gov­ern­ment for not hav­ing an al­ter­na­tive en­ergy strat­egy. EAC an­nounced that the re­cent in­crease was caused solely by the rise in in­ter­na­tional oil prices but said Novem­ber bills could be cheaper.

The Greens said gov­ern­ments fail­ing to act over the past 20 years have left Cyprus hostage to the fluc­tu­a­tions in oil prices as they did not in­vest enough or in a timely man­ner to utilise Re­new­able En­ergy Sources (RES).

Greens Party MP Char­alam­bos Theopemp­tou told the Fi­nan­cial Mir­ror that at the heart of in­creased elec­tric­ity prices lies the en­ergy and RES poli­cies over the last two decades.

He said that be­fore go­ing into to de­tail on how the lack of green en­ergy poli­cies have led to to­day’s high prices, we need to take a look at how the change in EAC’s pric­ing pol­icy has af­fected con­sumers’ pock­ets while dis­cour­ag­ing house­holds from in­stalling pho­to­voltaic sys­tems.

Theopemp­tou said 30% of the EAC bill sent to con­sumers re­gards the us­age of the net­work.

“Whereas be­fore, the EAC would charge a fixed fee of 30 eu­ros, now con­sumers are charged ac­cord­ing to how much use they make of the net­work, which is in­flat­ing their bill. Based on cal­cu­la­tions a house­hold with a lower than av­er­age con­sump­tion will have to pay at least 35 eu­ros for the use of the net­work”.

He said that EAC’s new pric­ing method, in­tro­duced in Septem­ber 2017, is also putting off peo­ple from want­ing to in­stall pho­to­voltaic sys­tems on their rooftops.

Pho­to­voltaics pro­duce elec­tric­ity dur­ing the day when peo­ple are not at home.

“At night there is no pro­duc­tion and peo­ple com­ing home from work turn on their TVs, do the laundry will have to con­nect to the net­work, they are be­ing charged more than pre­vi­ously, min­imis­ing ben­e­fits from pho­to­voltaics,” Theopemp­tou said.

He added: “The Cyprus En­ergy Reg­u­la­tory Au­thor­ity has taken some de­ci­sions re­gard­ing the mat­ter which will hope­fully amend the in­jus­tice some­what.”

Theopemp­tou said Cyprus should be con­form­ing its en­ergy pol­icy EU rules and reg­u­la­tions. He said that the EU has in­structed mem­bers states to pri­mar­ily aim at cut­ting down on elec­tric­ity con­sump­tion.

“This means that you have to iden­tify which sec­tor of the econ­omy is us­ing the big­gest amount of en­ergy and take steps to min­imise con­sump­tion. As house­holds are the num­ber one con­sumers, the gov­ern­ment should be look­ing at ways of en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple to build more en­ergy ef­fi­cient houses,” he said.

He said that would mean go­ing fur­ther than pro­vid­ing peo­ple with light bulbs fi­nanced by the EU.

“It would mean fi­nanc­ing peo­ple to make up­grades to their homes to save on elec­tric­ity. Ev­ery new house, by law, should be built with plans that fore­see a fu­ture in­stal­la­tion of a pho­to­voltaic sys­tem.”

Theopemp­tou said, the gov­ern­ment has an obli­ga­tion to up­grade 3% of state build­ings ev­ery year in order to make them en­ergy ef­fi­cient. “We have done ab­so­lutely noth­ing!”

He also said that Cyprus should be look­ing into the in­tro­duc­tion of elec­tric­ity pro­duc­tion us­ing or­ganic fuel.

“The big ad­van­tage of or­ganic fuel com­pared to other RES, is that whereas you can­not pro­duce so­lar and wind power on de­mand, with or­ganic waste you can pro­duce en­ergy at peak times. This way we could be leav­ing off­line units pro­duc­ing en­ergy with liq­uid fuel,” he ex­plained.

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The lack of an en­ergy pol­icy re­sults in yearly fines of EUR 15 mln to 17 mln, as Cyprus fails to meet in­ter­na­tional tar­gets re­gard­ing emis­sions.

“These fines are of course rolled over to con­sumers, with bills be­ing in­flated by 1.5%-2% ac­cord­ing to the amount of the fine,” said Theopemp­tou.

Ab­sence of an en­vi­ron­men­tally sound poli­cies means Cyprus is not go­ing to meet is EU 2020 tar­gets.

“From what has been dis­cussed in Par­lia­ment, we will prob­a­bly be faced with se­ri­ous fines from the EU, which the gov­ern­ment will have to pay. It is ex­pected that it will then seek to rollover the cost to con­sumers through a tax on petrol,” warned Theopemp­tou.

“Con­ser­va­tive es­ti­mates talk of a 2 to 7-euro cents in­crease on petrol prices in 2020. And of course, this cost will also cause a rise in the price of elec­tric­ity,” he added.

EAC ar­gues that the price in­creases are solely due to the rise in oil prices on the in­ter­na­tional mar­ket and refers to of­fi­cial fig­ures and in­struc­tions is­sued by the Cyprus En­ergy Reg­u­la­tory Au­thor­ity.

Talk­ing to the Fi­nan­cial Mir­ror, EAC spokesper­son Christina Pa­padopoulou pointed to “sig­nif­i­cant re­duc­tions which ben­e­fited con­sumers, that pre­ceded the in­creases of the past two years due to the drop in oil prices”.

She said that ac­cord­ing to EAC records fuel bought by the au­thor­ity has seen sig­nif­i­cant in­creases. “

Ac­cord­ing to data pro­vided by the EAC, be­tween Au­gust 2018 and Oc­to­ber 2018 the fuel used by the EAC in­creased 11.26%. Be­tween Oc­to­ber 2017 and Oc­to­ber 2018, the fuel price in­creased by 44.73%.

Be­tween Oc­to­ber 2016 and Oc­to­ber 2018, the in­crease in the price of fuel was 68.07%. Be­tween Oc­to­ber 2015 and Oc­to­ber 2018, the in­crease in the price of oil was 46.50%.

“For­tu­nately, the con­tin­u­ous price in­crease was halted be­tween Septem­ber 2018 and Oc­to­ber 2018, af­ter a 1.06% de­cline,” said Pa­padopoulou.

She said the au­thor­ity is work­ing hard on meet­ing the EU 2020 tar­gets which have to do with their op­er­a­tions.

Pa­padopoulou said that the EAC is work­ing on build­ing in­fra­struc­ture so as to be ready as of 1 Jan­uary 2020 to pro­duce a sig­nif­i­cant part of its en­ergy from nat­u­ral gas. She said that the au­thor­ity is to spend EUR 19 mln on nat­u­ral gas in­fra­struc­ture which should be op­er­a­tional by 2020.

“We al­ready have three units which can op­er­ate with nat­u­ral gas, but they are not used as there is no sup­ply,” said Pa­padopoulou.

She added that the au­thor­ity is also en­gag­ing in big RES projects such as the 66 MW so­lar park planned to be built in Ahera in co­op­er­a­tion with the Church of Cyprus and the 20 MW so­lar park to be built in Akrotiri, Li­mas­sol.

“These so­lar parks are to pro­vide elec­tric­ity for tens of thou­sands of house­holds.”

On Wed­nes­day, the Cabi­net de­cided to al­lo­cate EUR 3 mln for a scheme to fi­nance roof in­su­la­tion on homes al­ready built.

“It is a project an­tic­i­pated by a lot of peo­ple and will be launched next Mon­day with a bud­get of EUR 3 mln and will run un­til the amount is ex­hausted. The plan pro­vides for fund­ing of 25% of the el­i­gi­ble costs of each ap­pli­ca­tion with a ceil­ing of 1,250 eu­ros, “said En­ergy Min­is­ter Ge­orge Lakkotrypis.

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