ATHENS – After having poured more than 17.5 billion euros ($19.94 billion) into COVID-19 pandemic relief for workers and businesses during lockdown, Greece’s New Democracy government said it will extend aid for households wracked by soaring electric and gas bills.
That will take the assistance through February, said the Reuters news agency, the government of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis having put 1.7 billion euros ($1.94 billion) into relief starting in September, 2021.
That’s to help customers and businesses deal with soaring bills, including a jump of 189 percent for electricy at the same time fuel oil costs were keeping many households from having heat.
“The government, for a sixth consecutive month… is shielding families and businesses from the impact of an unprecedented energy crisis,” Energy Minister Kostas Skrekas said in a televised message.
“With the measures we are announcing today, the total relief exceeds 2 billion euros,” he said, adding that the cost for February would come in at 350 million euros ($398.85 million.)
In September, Greece offered a power bill subsidy of 9 euros ($10.26) a month for the first 300 hours consumed in the month. That was increased to 18 euros ($20.51 million) for October, to 39 euros ($44.443) for November and to 50 euros ($56.98) for December, a smidgeon of their cost.
In December 2021 the aid was extended into January, 2022, with subsidies targeting electricity costs for primary residences estimated at 42 euros ($47.86) per month, the report noted.
Skrekas said the average monthly subsidy for electricity consumption of up to 300 kilowatt hours would come to 39 euros ($44.44) for February, as energy prices have come down, if slightly.
The financial relief has been funded by revenues from carbon emission permits trading but there might be a need to reach into state coffers if conditions don’t ease, Finance Minister Christos Staikouras told state TV ERT.
Greece also has a 100-million euro ($113.96 million) program for home owners who make their residences more energy-efficient and to help reduce greenhouse gases, and will offer subsidies to replace air conditioners and refrigerators.