By Chryssa Liaggou
The government will announce next week the level of the first wave of rate increases for electricity consumption, which will apply retrospectively from January 1, while Public Power Corporation is trying to settle the growing pile of debts that customers owe the company. Sources say the total rate hike this year will come to 9 percent.
The level of the rate increase will be determined based on the intervention by the Regulatory Authority for Energy (RAE) in PPCís costs and the formerís recent decisions regarding the reduction of rates concerning the use of transmission and distribution networks.
The government will also taken into consideration the fact that many households have seen their incomes shrink, in a bid to avoid making the price of power prohibitive. Consumersí financial problems are best illustrated by PPC data regarding the level of unpaid debts owed to the company by its customers, which amount to 800 million euros, and the increase in the number of settlements for electricity bill debts.
According to data presented in Parliament on Monday by Public Power Corporation chief Arthouros Zervos, the unpaid electricity bills settled for 2012 reached up to 700,000, from some 400,000 in 2011.
The final level of the rate increases will also be given for approval to Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, and all signs at the moment point toward a total hike of 9 percent within the first six months of the year in three installments of 3 percent each.
The rate rises will come with decisions for the expansion of the so-called Social Domestic Rates for socially sensitive groups, based on the regulatory authorityís proposals.
The power regulator has also received demands from a number of industrial companies for the imposition of a temporary electricity rate on the medium-voltage bracket, in the same way that was applied in the cases of major industries Aluminium of Greece and Larco.
The firms argue they cannot pay the rate hikes that PPC unilaterally imposed in February 2012 along with the new increases this year.