Italy to spend €3.8bn on limiting latest energy price hike

A lit gas cooker ring.
Italy, which relies heavily on imported gas, is being hit hard by price hikes. Photo by Ina Fassbender/AFP
The Italian government is planning another intervention as energy bills are predicted to soar by up to 50 percent in January, local media reports.

Ministers have earmarked another one billion euros towards keeping household bills down, bringing the total sum to be spent in the new year to 3.8 billion euros, reports Italian news agency Ansa.

The move follows predictions that gas bills would rise by 50 percent in January without government intervention.

Electricity bills would also rise by between 17 and 25 percent, economic think tank Nomisma said.

In October the government allocated three billion euros to limit a similar hike in energy prices in Italy, where rates are revised every quarter.

Despite this, the consumer price of electricity rose by 28.9 percent and gas by 14.4 percent.

READ ALSO: Rising energy prices: How to save money on your bills in Italy

Nomisma Energia President Davide Tabarelli told Ansa that energy costs in Italy were now “out of control”.

Europe as a whole is facing soaring power prices as its economy recovers from the coronavirus pandemic, while natural gas reserves on the continent are at a worryingly low level.

Italy in particular relies heavily on imported gas: some 40 percent of Italy’s primary energy consumption is gas, compared with about 15 percent in neighbouring France, according to official statistics for both countries.

Tabarelli pointed to a reduction in the amount of gas delivered to Europe from Russia as one of the key causes of the crisis.

This is partly due to aging transportation networks, and partly to Moscow’s efforts to apply pressure on European governments to give the necessary approvals to open its Nord Stream 2 pipeline, the launch for which was pushed back by Germany’s energy regulator to at least March 2022, he said.

READ ALSO: Why Italy’s fuel prices are among the highest in Europe – and rising

He also highlighted a push by China and other countries to transition their main energy supply from coal to natural gas, increasing global demand on the energy source.

“Energy companies are investing more in renewables and less in fossil fuels, but the demand for gas isn’t decreasing,” Tabarelli said.

His concerns were echoed by Italian consumer rights group Consumerismo.

If prices rise as predicted, the group said, energy bills would cost the average family in Italy 3,368 euros in 2022 – 1,227 euros more than in 2021.

It recommended that the government allocate at least 10 billion euros “to counter increases and speculation on international energy markets”.


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