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Bid to ensure poor households have power

43 year-old Anastasia Ioannou (l) and 45 year-old Giorgos Vogiatzis sit in their kitchen lit by candle light in Thessaloniki on Sunday. Anastasia, who has epilepsy, and Giorgos, who has been unemployed for many years, recently had the elecricity in their small house cut off.

Government officials pledged Monday to take all possible measures to ensure that households unable to pay their electricity bills are not left without power as winter sets in and temperatures drop.

Following talks with Environment Minister Yiannis Maniatis, Deputy Prime Minister Evangelos Venizelos said the government would take radical measures to ensure that power is restored to low-income households that have had their electricity disconnected and that thousands more Greeks unable to pay their bills will not be at risk of losing their power supply. There will be no home without electricity, Venizelos told reporters.

Earlier Maniatis had said low-income families will receive free electricity on days when there is smog due to smoke emitted from the increased use of fireplaces. In comments to Mega TV, Maniatis said some 470,000 households, 150,000 of which are in Attica, would be eligible for free electricity when there is smog. He said that for every day smoke particles pass the level of 150 mg/m3, families would receive two days of free electricity.

According to Maniatis, the aim of the initiative is to reduce the frequency with which Greeks use their fireplaces to keep warm during the winter due to the rising cost of heating oil. Maniatis added that organizations providing welfare, such as those run by the Church of Greece and municipalities, would be given a 70 percent reduction on their electricity bills. We believe that there are 2,000 to 3,000 such organizations, said the minister.

The series of initiatives by the government follows a spate of fires in homes without electricity over the past two weeks, two of which were fatal. , Monday December 9, 2013 (20:50)  
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