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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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POLITICS

Italy’s Meloni in Libya to discuss energy and migration

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni arrived on Saturday in the Libyan capital Tripoli for talks on energy as well as the thorny issue of migration, Libyan state media said.

Italy's Meloni in Libya to discuss energy and migration

Meloni’s trip – her second to a North African country this week – is the first by a European leader to war-battered Libya since her predecessor Mario Draghi’s visit in April 2021.

State television said the Italian premier was received by Abdelhamid Dbeibah, who heads the Tripoli-based, UN brokered Government of National Unity which is contested by a rival administration in the east.

Libya and its former colonial power Italy are key trade partners, particularly in energy, where Italian giant Eni plays a major role in tapping into Africa’s largest known oil reserves.

Meloni was accompanied by Eni chief Claudio Descalzi, who is expected to sign a deal with Libya’s National Oil Company to develop two Libyan offshore gas fields.

Eni will invest $8 million in the two fields, NOC chief Farhat Bengdara said in televised remarks this week, adding they are expected to produce 850 million cubic metres of gas.

Meloni visited Algeria on Monday seeking supply deals from Africa’s top gas exporter to help reduce reliance on Russia after it invaded Ukraine last year.

During her trip to Libya, she is also expected to discuss the issue of migration amid rising numbers of irregular migrants from Libya to Italy.

Libya has been wracked by years of conflict and division since a NATO-backed revolt toppled dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.

The country is a conduit for thousands of people each year fleeing conflict and poverty across Africa, seeking refuge across the Mediterranean in Europe.

Meloni’s far-right government took office in October, vowing to stop migrant landings in Italy, which reached more than 105,000 in 2022.

The central Mediterranean route is considered the world’s most treacherous, according to the International Organization for Migration, which estimated that 1,377 migrants had disappeared on that route last year.

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