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Economy

Greeks Electric Bills Skyrocket, Mitsotakis Hails Utility Company

ATHENS – As Greeks have been hit with price shock with electric bills jumping out of sight, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis lauded the interest shown in the former money-bleeding Public Power Corporation (PPC) by investors.

That came after a successful share capital increase from 750 million euros ($867.37 million) to 1.3 billion euros ($1.5 billion) and the price of a share surpassing 9 euros ($10.41.)

He said that when his New Democracy government came to power, “The company we received was on the verge of bankruptcy, with losses of 2 billion euros ($2.31 billion) and the value of its share approaching zero.

“And yet, a systemic risk for the national economy, within two years, became a springboard for its development,” he said, reported Kathimerini.

He also pointed out that “the new PPC, with the state maintaining control, is made stronger, so that it can protect consumers from fluctuations in electricity prices; more modern, to offer them better services; but also more decisive, to become a protagonist in the new era, with investments of 3 billion euros ($3.47 billion) in renewable energy sources in the next three years.”

That may be good for the bottom line for PPC which struggled mightily when Greeks buried under austerity measures attached to three international bailouts of 326 billion euros ($377.02 billion) couldn’t pay their electric bills.

Now they’ve been whacked with bills out of reach for many people, the government offering a pittance of a subsidy to help them deal with as winter is approaching and they have to worry about the cost of heating oil as well.

The government will put 500 million euros ($578.25) into aid programs, up from a previously announced 150 million euros ($173.47) in September, said Reuters earlier, the news coming from Finance Minister Christos Staikouras.

Electricity and gas prices in the European Union are rocketing because of a lack of supplies and strong demand as economies are trying to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic that saw usage drop.

Energy Minister Kostas Skrekas said the subsidies would be mainly funded by revenues from the sale of carbon emission allowances, which have also soared in value to record prices on the EU Emissions Trading System, the report added.

“Since the start of the year, gas prices in Europe have increased six-fold,” Skrekas said, adding that the possibility of a harsh winter was colliding with the big jump in household electric bills, toward which the government is offering

intensifies concerns and makes the worsening of the world energy crisis more likely.

The measures will include an 18 euros ($20.82) subsidy for the first 300 kilowatt hours consumed retroactively from Oct. 1 until the end of the year, up from a 9 euro ($10.41) subsidy announced in September.

Low-income households will get a higher monthly subsidy of 24 euros ($27.76) a month, while gas and power suppliers will offer additional discounts to consumers who will have to make up the big difference on their own.

The subsidies are estimated to cost 326 million euros ($377.02) and the government will also spend another 168 million euros($194.29) to offer a higher one-off payment to help households buy oil, gas, wood and biomass for winter heating.

“We have a clear message: Amid an energy crisis which is unprecedented in intensity and duration, we will leave no household and no Greek citizen unprotected,” Skrekas said.

Greece has recommended an EU-wide mechanism to help deal with steep gas price fluctuations across the bloc, which could draw funds from advance payments of carbon emission allowances, said the news agency.

The allowances would be allocated to EU countries based on their heating and power consumption and on their gross domestic product per capita with no report what would happen to people who can’t pay and if their power would be shut off in the cold and leave them in the dark.

 

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