ECONOMY

Power bills bringing misery

Consumers resorting to debt arrangements as complaints flood in about adjustment clauses

Power bills bringing misery

Consumers are increasingly having to resort to special arrangements to pay their electricity bills, while more than 1,000 complaints are being submitted every week to the Regulatory Authority for Energy against adjustment clauses on bills.

Rates remain unbearably high, despite government subsidies for a sixth straight month, as incomes keep shrinking due to soaring inflation. Difficulties in paying power bills concern most consumers and both the government and the market are worried as geopolitical developments point to a long period of high energy rates ahead.

Market leader Public Power Corporation (PPC) has in recent months seen expired arrears from bills rise 5% more than anticipated, despite the absorption of part of the hikes through the discount it offers its consistent clients.

Most private power suppliers have seen a doubling (if not more) of overdue bill payments. Debt arrangements have also doubled since last year, while month after month they grow by 10%. In many cases it is the companies themselves that propose to their customers some arrangement when seeing them delay in meeting their obligations.

The share of power consumers that pays after the 45 days from the bill’s issue expires has risen from 25% to 50%, while the average time of bill payment has doubled from 45 days to three months. “It is only a matter of time until payment delays transform into bad debts,” a private supplier representative tells Kathimerini.

The market is also witnessing the return of the so-called “energy tourism,” in that consumers aware of the legal loopholes and the insufficient monitoring of the market switch from supplier to supplier, leaving debts behind.

It is obvious that consumers are reaching the end of their tethers, something that Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has acknowledged himself. If there is no European intervention, the government intends to apply one or more of the scenarios it is examining, including the imposition of a rate cap on the wholesale market.