PPC ups debt collection drive with stricter power cut threats

Driven to renewed action by an alarming level of unpaid receivables, the main power utility PPC is once again increasing its pressure on consumers with arrears to start paying up following the failure of its softened payback program to produce satisfactory results.

Consumers are being pressured to register for the utility’s payback program or face power supply cuts and far tougher terms for reconnection and overall debt settlement.

PPC is troubled by the subdued overall response to its softened payback program, which drew 290,000 customers – roughly 215,000 households, 70,000 professional and 7,000 farmers. This is just a fraction of the utility’s consumers with arrears. An estimated 1.5 million customers did not respond.

The majority of these customers have been issued new requests for registration into the payback program by September. If customers do not respond, their power supply will be cut and ensuing reconnection will require payments representing 30 percent of respective amounts owed, while the outstanding debt will need to be paid over eight installments, not 36.

The utility increased its rate of power cut orders forwarded to HEDNO, the Hellenic Electricity Distribution Network Operator, earlier this month, according to energypress sources.

In more recent times, PPC had adopted a more relaxed approach on consumers who have fallen behind on electricity bill payments, both as a result of its introduction of the softened payback program, offering 36 installments and no deposit as a qualification prerequisite, and the summer.

PPC’s experience has shown that cutting power supply, or threatening to do so, appears to be the only way of getting consumers with arrears to pay.

The utility’s latest clampdown on consumers not paying up will focus on those owing large amounts of 3,000 euros and over, which does not mean that consumers owing smaller amounts will be let off the hook, the energypress sources informed.

A recent study conducted by PPC showed that more than 80,000 consumers, from professionals, shops, businesses to households, owe the utility over 3,000 euros each.

Sources said PPC officials began forwarding power cut orders in late July and early August for consumers owing major amounts. Sources said nearly 100,000 consumers owing amounts of between 3,000 euros and 10,000 euros are being targeted through this campaign.

It remains unknown how much support PPC’s renewed debt collection drive will receive from the government, which, no doubt, will take into account socio-political factors and increased taxes faced by taxpayers as of September. The Greek State controls PPC with a 51.12 percent stake.

Prior to being elected to head a coalition government in January, 2015, theoretically leftist Syriza, as an opposition anti-austerity party, had played a key role in a movement encouraging troubled households to not pay their electricity bills.

PPC’s unpaid receivables are estimated to have reached 2.4 billion euros, according to the utility’s administration, and as much as 2.7 billion euros, according to Genop, the power company’s main union group.