Farming electricity discount widely abused, probe is finding

The main power utility PPC’s ongoing investigation into farming electricity tariffs, priced 40 percent lower than regular household rates, is revealing that an increasing number of household properties, many of these sizeable, without any connection to farming activities, have been abusing the offer for years and enjoying considerably cheaper electricity rates.

Of the roughly 207,000 consumers registered to PPC’s farming category, about 160,000 have provided documents demanded by the utility to verify their status. PPC officials are currently examining the details of these documents to decide whether to continue supplying electricity to these consumers at discount farming rates.

An estimated 30,000 consumers registered at PPC as farmers have not come forward with any documents. Many of these consumers are suspected of having previously supplied false information to abuse the discount offer.

The inspection process has been a lengthy one delayed by a series of deadline extensions. Final decisions on how many of PPC’s 207,000 conusmers registered as farmers will continue qualifying for the 40 percent farming discount are expected by the end of this year.

Consumers who fail to provide required documents verifying their farming status will automatically be transferred to the household tariff category.

It has been a common secret around the country that Greece’s agricultural community is considerably smaller than the 207,000 or so registered as farmers with PPC.

Besides the sudden electricity cost increases to be faced by indviduals who have abused the system, actual farmers also face tariff increases, as part of the country’s bailout deal, which demands the abolishment of cross-subsidies, through which certain consumer categories cover the costs of lower tariffs for others, such as farmers.

The European Commission has demanded that Greece stop implementing its cross-subsidies system by the end of this year. The country has been granted an extension to a previous deadline.