ECONOMY

Demand for electricity drops at record pace in February

Greek electricity production dropped at its fastest pace on record in February as mild temperatures reduced heating needs and a deep recession shrank industrial production, data showed on Wednesday.

Net power demand dropped 12 percent to 3.84 million megawatt hours, according to a monthly energy bulletin by grid operator ADMHE. It was the steepest drop since comparable records began in August 2004.

Electricity demand has been falling for four consecutive years with energy operators struggling with a financing crisis.

Power consumption by industrial users fell 4.4 percent in February, suggesting the country’s five-year recession is far from bottoming out.

A mild winter allowed austerity-pinched households to cut their heating bills through lower use of air-conditioning units.

Many Greeks switched to electricity-powered air conditioners for heating after the government hiked oil taxes to plug its fiscal holes. Heating fuel prices jumped by about a third after the tax hike.

Greece’s electricity system is dominated by state-run utility Public Power Corp, which accounts for about two-thirds of electricity production and is the country’s sole power retailer.

After heavy rainfall in recent weeks, the company boosted hydro output in February to 708,651 MWh, its highest level in three years, according to ADMHE data.

Using more hydro-generated power empties its water reservoirs and prevents them from overflowing. It also boosts profit because water is PPC’s cheapest fuel, as opposed to coal, natural gas and oil, which it also uses.

[Reuters]