ECONOMY

Greek power rates among EU’s lowest

BRUSSELS – Greek households enjoy the lowest average rate for electricity in the European Union, the bloc’s statistics service, Eurostat, said. The Greek rate is actually less than 50 percent of the EU average. In January, the latest month for which there is available data, the price of electricity for Greek households stood at 7.01 euros per 100 kilowatts hours (kWh), against an average of 14.40 euros in the EU. The only rates comparable to the ones in Greece are those of the new Baltic members, where living standards are considerably lower; the averages are 7.18 euros/100kWh for Lithuania, 7.31 euros/ 100kWh for Estonia and 8.29 euros/100kWh for Latvia. But even in terms of purchasing power parities (PPPs), which balance out general price level differentials, Greece remains the cheapest in Europe, with 8.01 PPPs/100kWh. The UK, where the power industry is deregulated and mostly private, is the second cheapest with 9.05 PPPs/100kWh, followed by Finland and France. Power rates rose by an average of 5 percent in the EU in 2005, but only 1.9 percent in Greece. Denmark has the highest household electricity rates in the EU, an average of 23.60 euros/100kWh, and Italy the second highest, 21.08 euros/kWh, with the Netherlands and Germany following. In terms of PPPs, the most expensive country is Slovenia, with 24.48 PPPs/100kWh, with Italy the second most expensive. The above rates are calculated for an average annual consumption of 3,500 kWh, of which one-third are cheaper nighttime rates. Greece also has low electricity rates for industrial users but far from the lowest (calculation for users of between 2 megawatt/hours [MWh] and 500 MWh). The average Greek rate is 6.68 euros/MWh, higher than in in the three Baltic new members, France, Cyprus, Malta, Slovenia, Slovakia, Finland and Sweden. The Greek industrial power rate rose 3.6 percent in 2005, or about a quarter of the EU average (15.5 percent). Cyprus had the steepest increases (38.4 percent in industrial rates and 31.4 percent for households). Greece also stands out for having the lowest difference between household and industrial rates, just 33 cents per kWh when in most other EU members the industrial rates are 30-50 percent lower. Greek electricity rates also have the fourth-lowest tax burden (not exceeding 8.3 percent of the household rate) after Malta, Portugal and the UK. The EU average is 15 percent and the highest is in Denmark, at 57.8 percent.