“Last quarter electricity prices increased by 20%, next quarter they will increase by 40%”, Ecological Transition Minister Roberto Cingolani told a trade union conference in Genova on Monday, Italian news agency Ansa reports.
“It has to be said. We have to face these things,” Cingolani added.
“This is happening because the price of gas at the international level is increasing, it is happening because the price of CO2 is increasing.”
Cingolani’s statement followed similar predictions made in recent months by energy sector analysts, as electricity prices have risen sharply in Italy and many parts of Europe over the past year.
The increase last quarter meant prices in Italy soared by around 20 percent for industrial customers from July 1st, and added nearly ten percent onto household bills.
The retail cost of electricity rose by 9.9% and gas by 15.3% from July 1st in the last quarterly tariff update, according to Italy’s energy regulatory authority Arera.
The price increases were initially set to be even higher, but the government stepped in to limit the increase amid concerns about how the sudden rise would impact inflation, allocating 1.2 billion euros to keep the increase in bill prices below 10 percent.
The government may consider taking similar steps in the coming weeks to mitigate the larger price hike expected in October – though news reports note that further state aid is not guaranteed due to the considerable cost.
“An increase of this magnitude, if confirmed, would be lethal for families and businesses. For a typical family it would be equivalent to paying an additional 247 euros on an annual basis,” Marco Vignola, head of energy at the unione nazionale consumatori (National Consumers Union), told Italian news website Today.
Vignola called on the government to “immediately remedy” the situation, saying “such an astronomical increase would be a serious blow to economic recovery, raising the costs of businesses and weighing heavily on the pockets of families, with deleterious effects on the restart of consumption.”
Italian consumers are now paying some of the highest electricity prices in Europe, with the average cost now at 145.03 euros per mw/h (megawatt hour) according to newspaper Corriere della Sera.
This means the cost is now higher than in Portugal and in Spain, where electricity costs have soared to 141.71 euros per mw/h, reaching an all-time high on September 9th after significant price rises across much of Europe over the past 12 months.
Italy at the end of 2020 had the sixth-highest household electricity prices in the European Union after Germany, Denmark, Belgium, Ireland, Austria and Spain, according to data from Eurostat, the bloc’s statistics office.