In line with the government’s announcement earlier this month, the Energy Regulatory Body has decided to increase the cost of electricity for households that use more than 800kilowatt hours (kWh) per month, a decision that could impact up to 72,000 homes.
The approved measure, which forms part of a series of energy saving measures the government announced earlier this month, those who use 800 kWh per month or below will see their bills remain the same with a low, subsidised rate, but for every watt over the limit, the price will quadruple.
The current rate is €0.082 per kWh, rising to €0.43 under the new rates.
While electricity rates have soared around Europe due to the energy crisis, Albania’s have been mainly subsidised, and consumers have not seen much increase. The country relies mainly on locally produced hydropower, but in the winter, it imports fossil energy which has now seen a significant increase in cost on the markets.
The authorities have spent €300 million on subsidising electricity prices to shield the population of one of Europe’s poorest countries.
“We think the time has come when the budget and ordinary taxes can no longer support these people,” said Prime Minister Edi Rama, referring to those with high consumption due to having villas, swimming pools and lots of decorative lights, when he made the announcement earlier this month. He added that “every kilowatt above 800 would be paid at the market price.”
At the time of the announcement, the government said this would impact some 40,000 families, but estimates based on consumption in December 2021, it could reach 90,000.
In terms of the costs, high-consumption households will face, a family consuming 900 kWh will pay €121.79 under the new rates, as opposed to €88.24 before, an increase of 38%.
The new rate is due to kick in on 1 October while the government has called on consumers to be cautious with their energy usage, switch off lights and reduce unnecessary consumption.
It will expire on 31 December, and a new decision will be made and enforced.
Rama has repeatedly called on the EU to help Western Balkan countries face the challenges of the energy crisis this winter.
“The EU should not do the shame it did during the pandemic with us. They all remember very well how the Balkan countries were forced to run to China, Russia, and Turkey to start the rescue operation of nurses and doctors for vaccination,” Rama said during the Open Balkan summit in Belgrade earlier in September.
“The EU closed itself and saw only within the walls of its own castle, and the leaders of the EU have accepted that this was a shame,” he added.