Faced by an alarming rise in the level of unpaid overdue electricity bills owed by consumers, estimated at 2.2 billion euros, the main power utility PPC is set to intensify its collection campaign by cutting power supply to consumers who owe more than 1,000 euros and who have failed to pay their power bills over two successive four-month billing periods.
No less than 30 to 50 percent of 700,000 of consumers with arrears are expected to be left without electricity for at least a few days. Following PPC investigations, including cross-examination of various criteria, these consumers are believed to be financially able but not willing to settle their PPC electricity bills, even through payback schemes, in installments.
Between 200,000 and 350,000 households, professionals, and businesses are expected to be affected by PPC’s more aggressive collection campaign.
A total of 2.1 million consumers owe unpaid overdue electricity bills to PPC, including businesses that have gone out of business, households flattened by the recession, and the Greek state.
Less than a year ago, Syriza, as the main opposition party at the time, was responding to power supply cuts imposed on consumers lagging behind on electricity bill payments by orchestrating frequent protests outside PPC offices – as part of a wider movement dubbed “I Won’t Pay” – and releasing statements condemning the conservative New Democracy-led coalition for being merciless.
Syriza, now in power as the coalition’s main partner, and PPC are both concerned about the wider social impact that may be prompted by the power utility’s growing need to clamp down on consumers with arrears.
Protesters linked to a local solidarity group yesterday staged a rally outside PPC’s office in Pyrgos, western Peloponnese, holding a banner with the words “Not A Single Home Without Electricity”. Some tension was reported. Government and PPC officials fear a wider resistance movement may be in the making.