Electricity suppliers are feeling the financial effects of the coronavirus crisis, threatening to increase the level of electricity bill arrears amid reduced consumption and lower sales.
Consumers are now contacting suppliers to request installment-based payment arrangements, or, worse still, expressing an inability to meet electricity bill payments, energypress has been informed.
Retailers and small businesses whose operations are being stifled by the coronavirus lockdown are particularly feeling the pressure.
Electricity suppliers maintaining a dominant mid-voltage customer base are very concerned as the coronavirus spread has already begun inflicting financial damage on sectors such as tourism, hotels and restaurants, all expected to be particularly affected by the ongoing crisis.
Retailers, too – except for supermarket chains, registering rising sales figures – are also under severe pressure. Their position will deteriorate further as a result of a government decision temporarily shutting down most shops as of today.
Electricity suppliers are more or less helpless at present. Distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO would not execute any electricity-cut orders amid these extraordinary conditions.
Subsequently, suppliers are calling for a delay of their payments to operators such as power grid operator IPTO, DEDDIE, and RES market operator DAPEEP for network usage fees, a RES-supporting ETMEAR surcharge and other such obligations.
Power utility PPC, badly affected by departing customers despite their electricity bill arrears, wants a direct link established between amounts owed and power meters as a means of stopping debt-ridden consumers from roving about from one supplier to another.
The power utility has formally requested RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, to intervene and make the required revisions that would stop customers with electricity debt from switching suppliers.
Consumers, both households and businesses, have resorted to changing their tax file numbers for continued power supply from other suppliers.
Companies that have gone out of business, along with households and enterprises that have changed tax file numbers, exceed 820,000 cases and owe PPC a total of more than 840 million euros.
European law does not permit restrictions preventing customers from switching suppliers.
Energy Minister Panos Skourletis is expecting proposals from the main power utility PPC next week ahead of the finalization of revisions to the current payback program offered to consumers owing overdue, unpaid electricity bills to the utility.
Energypress has been infomed that the maximum number of monthly installments to be permitted will be slightly increased from 36 at present. Any chance of doubling the number of installments allowed, as rumored, has apparently been ruled out.
Energy ministry officials in a position to know how much leniency PPC’s budget can handle explained that the number of maximum installments permitted by the payback program would be modestly increased.
A series of other revisions are also expected to help PPC rake in badly needed cash as remedy for its worsening cashflow problem. Deposit levels demanded from consumers as a prerequisite for qualification into the payback program are likely to be lowered.
PPC is expected to present the energy ministry with a detailed rundown of the number of installments it is currently offering consumers and the amounts they owe. In most cases, the actual number of installments being offered to troubled consumers is well below the upper limit of 36. Data provided by the utility indicates that the number of installments being offered, nationwide, at present averages less than 20.