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ENERGY

Electric bills in Italy set for record 55 percent rise from January

Households and businesses in Italy will pay sharply increased energy bills from January, despite government financial intervention.

Household bills in Italy are set to spike from January 1st.
Household bills in Italy are set to spike from January 1st. Photo by DAMIEN MEYER / AFP

A record hike in the cost of household bills is due to come into effect from Saturday, at an increase of 55 percent for electricity and 41.8 percent for gas.

The figures are much higher than estimates warned of only earlier this month, which were predicted to be anywhere between 17 and 25 percent for electricity and up to 50 percent for gas.

The increases for the first quarter of 2022 decided by the Regulatory Authority for Energy Networks and Environment (Arera) mark a new high after a series of increases over the past year.

In July, electricity bills rose by 9.9 percent and 15.3 percent for gas, while in October figures increased by 29.8 percent for electricity and 14.4 percent for gas.

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

Although the latest price hikes are historically steep, Arera claimed that they would have been even more if it weren’t for financial support from the government, reported news agency Ansa.

Italy has approved almost €4 billion to contain the effects of price increases in the electricity and natural gas sectors in its Budget Law 2022.

Without it, these latest price rises of wholesale energy products would in fact have led to an increase of 65 percent for electricity and 59.2 percent for gas, according to Arera.

“The budget intervenes with a package of measures strongly desired to counteract the increase in energy bills,” stated economic development minister Giancarlo Giorgetti.

“These are measures that will be further strengthened by the government, which considers it a priority to support our industries and families at a very delicate time,” he added.

EXPLAINED: What will Italy’s new budget mean for you in 2022?

The changes will affect some 29 million families and six million businesses.

Estimates on how much the bills will actually cost vary. According to Arera, the new tariffs will translate into an expenditure of more than €2,300 between April 1st 2021 and March 31st 2022.

Meanwhile, consumer groups claimed that families can expect to face a greater expenditure – of an extra €1,008 in 2022 (€441 for electricity and €567 for gas), according to the Consumers Union, or an added €1,119 according to the calculations of Codacons.

Some consumer associations claimed the government’s measures don’t go far enough and have appealed to the EU to impose fixed prices.

Italy isn’t the only country to be affected by surging energy costs. 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.

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ENERGY

Italy’s Draghi criticises Germany over latest energy plan

Outgoing Italian PM Mario Draghi condemned Germany’s €200-billion energy-prices shield, saying EU ‘must act together’.

Italy's Draghi criticises Germany over latest energy plan

Outgoing Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and his likely successor have criticised Germany’s 200-billion move to shield its citizens from rising energy prices, saying Europe must act together to tackle the energy crisis.

“Faced with the common threats of our times, we cannot divide ourselves according to the amount of room in our national budgets,” Draghi said in a press release on Thursday.

READ ALSO: Electricity bills in Italy to rise by 59 percent, warns power regulator

The statement came after Germany introduced a 200-billion ($194-billion) shield to protect households and businesses from soaring energy prices, 

The measure was Germany’s move in what the country’s Finance Minister Christian Lindner described as an “energy war over prosperity and freedom” with Russia.

“The energy crisis requires a response from Europe to reduce costs for families and businesses, to limit exceptional gains made by producers and importers, […] and to keep Europe united once against in the face of an emergency,” Draghi said, commenting on Germany’s move.

At a meeting of EU energy ministers in Brussels on Friday, Italy’s Roberto Cingolani reiterated Rome’s support for an EU-wide cap on the price of gas – something Draghi has long been calling for.

“Everyone has recognised that there is a priority at the moment, which is to bring down the cost of gas. But there is also a second priority, [that is] to avoid creating a shortage of gas in doing so,” Cingolani said.

READ ALSO: Portofino mayor offers residents €400 to offset energy bills

Draghi will only be in office for a few more weeks, after which he will likely be replaced by Giorgia Meloni, whose far-right Brothers of Italy party triumphed at last Sunday’s elections.

Like Draghi, Meloni has backed the idea of a European price cap thus far. 

Ahead of Friday’s energy meeting in Brussels, the soon-to-be new Italian PM also appeared to criticise Germany as she called for “an immediate European response” to the energy crisis.

“No member state can offer effective and long-term solutions on its own in the absence of a common strategy, not even those that appear less financially vulnerable,” she added.

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