Ma­jor dis­count on power rates for smog days

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY CHRYSSA LIAGGOU

Some 4.5 mil­lion house­holds in Greece stand to ben­e­fit from gov­ern­ment mea­sures aimed at re­duc­ing air pol­lu­tion with power rate dis­counts of around 70 per­cent, which would mean a 55 per­cent drop in the to­tal amount of elec­tric­ity bills.

Those house­holds do not in­clude the ap­prox­i­mately 470,000 that are on the list for the so-called So­cial Rates. Ac­cord­ing to a gov­ern­ment de­ci­sion, poor house­holds will re­cieve two days of free elec­tric­ity for ev­ery day that re­gional au­thor­i­ties deem that the con­cen­tra­tion of par­tic­u­late mat­ter sus­pended in the air ex­ceeds 150 mi­cro­grams per cu­bic me­ter.

The ex­ten­sion of the mea­sures be­yond sen­si­tive so­cial groups was de­cided in a meet­ing held last week at the Fi­nance Min­istry, with the joint min­is­te­rial de­ci­sion for the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the plan ex­pected in the com­ing days. Sources say that the de­ci­sion will pro­vide for a 70 per­cent dis­count in the power con­sump­tion sec­tion of the bill. Reg­u­lated charges such as levies for net­work main­te­nance and re­new­able en­ergy sources will not be re­duced, mean­ing the fi­nal dis­count for ev­ery bill on those days will amount to 55 per­cent.

This con­sid­er­able drop in rates will con­cern con­sumers of up to 2,000 kilo­watt/hours per four months, a cat­e­gory that cov­ers all low and mid­dle in­comes and to­tals

prob­lems with smog. The gov­ern­ment in­tends to of­fer con­sumers lower elec­tric­ity rates on days when the con­cen­tra­tion of par­tic­u­late mat­ter reaches emer­gency lev­els to ease the prob­lem. 4.5 mil­lion house­holds. The dis­count has no in­come con­di­tions at­tached, as the gov­ern­ment has de­cided that mid­dle-in­come homes should also get this form of sup­port in or­der for the mea­sure to be most ef­fec­tive. The aim is to stop peo­ple from us­ing fire­places and wood-burn­ing stoves to heat their homes on the days when the con­cen­tra­tion of par­tic­u­late mat­ter reaches emer­gency lev­els.

The cost of the mea­sure is es­ti­mated at be­tween 30 and 50 mil­lion eu­ros per year and will de­pend on weather con­di­tions, as they will de­ter­mine the fre­quency of its ap­pli­ca­tion, as well as the re­sponse by con­sumers. It has emerged that the cost will be cov­ered by the pri­mary sur­plus of the 2013 bud­get along with funds from the 2014 bud­get.

The mea­sure will be au­to­mat­i­cally ac­ti­vated with each re­gional au­thor­ity’s an­nounce­ment about smog ex­ceed­ing a cer­tain level, and will ap­ply for as many days as the smog stays above that level. The re­gions to have re­ported the high­est con­cen­tra­tions of smog ac­cord­ing to last win­ter’s data are At­tica, Thes­sa­loniki, Ioan­nina and Larissa.

Clearly the re­sponse of con­sumers will be key to the mea­sure’s suc­cess as it has no com­pul­sory char­ac­ter. It rests on cit­i­zens’ sense of so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity, al­though the mo­tive will be strong. Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials con­cede that the state and elec­tric­ity util­ity Pub­lic Power Cor­po­ra­tion will be un­able to mon­i­tor the ap­pli­ca­tion of the mea­sure as there are no me­ters record­ing hourly con­sump­tion. Con­se­quently they do not rule out the pos­si­bil­ity of cer­tain con­sumers tak­ing ad­van­tage of the con­sid­er­able dis­count to re­duce their spend­ing on elec­tri­cal en­ergy and con­tinue burn­ing wood in fire­places and stoves.

What has raised some eye­brows in the en­ergy mar­ket, though, is the fact that the En­ergy Min­istry has not also en­listed nat­u­ral gas in the bat­tle against the smog in Athens, Thes­sa­loniki and Thes­saly, where the fuel is avail­able, as th­ese re­gions also have a ma­jor prob­lem with the phe­nom­e­non.

At least heat­ing oil has this year con­trib­uted more in the bat­tle against the smog, as the ex­pan­sion of in­come cri­te­ria for the heat­ing oil ben­e­fit to con­sumers has seen a sig­nif­i­cant part of the mar­ket re­turn to this safe form of fuel for heat­ing.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Greece

© PressReader. All rights reserved.