SHARE
COPY LINK
For members

ENERGY

EXPLAINED: How much are energy bills rising in Italy?

Energy costs are rising in Italy - but just how high could they go? The Local looks at how residents and businesses are being affected by soaring bills.

Energy prices in Italy have soared since Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February.
Energy prices in Italy have soared since Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February. Photo by ALAIN JOCARD / AFP.

People in Italy are receiving bills this week for energy use in recent months – and they’re even higher than many people expected, leading to concerns about further increases over the coming winter.

Gas and electricity prices in Italy have soared in recent months, as Europe continues to be buffeted by a volatile energy market in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Italy is particularly dependent on Russian gas, importing 95 percent of the gas it consumes, of which around 40 percent comes from Russia.

As a result, bills are rising at an alarming rate – and so far a series of government measures aimed at offsetting the costs have provided only a very thin cushion.

Families are currently paying approximately 70-80 percent more for gas than they did a year ago, according to an August report for the trade publication Qualenergia.it – raising the roughly €1,700-1,800 the average household would spend in a normal year to around €2,900-€3,240 this year.

But with Europe’s energy crisis showing no signs of abating, prices seem set to rise even higher than this.

Residents across Italy have reported seeing their gas and electricity bills for the second quarter of 2022 double or even triple compared to the same period last year.

READ ALSO

“Ours is usually €90 for our apartment, there’s 3 of us… July was €170,” says Italy resident Kav Kavanagh.

Another foreign resident who didn’t want to be named told The Local his own household energy bills have gone from €190 to €560 for two months of use – and that those for his workplace have risen tenfold, so that his employers have had to request rateizzazione (payment in instalments).

“So far we’re keeping our neck above water, so to speak, and had to up our prices by 30 percent, and unfortunately diminish our staff, therefore our service quality has gone down and unfortunately customers aren’t as understanding as of yet,” he said.

Prices are predicted to double again from October, says Qualenergia.it, as the cost of gas on the Amsterdam stock exchange rose from €84/Mwh at the start of July to more than €109/Mwh at the start of August.

Gas prices overall have risen more than tenfold in the last year, from around €27/Mwh in August 2021 to an eye-watering – and record-breaking – spike of €341/Mwh at the end of August 2022.

These increases mean Italian businesses are forecast to pay at least €106 billion more in 2022 than in previous years, according to a recent estimate from the Italian small and medium sized business federation CGIA.

The hikes have led to demonstrations from desperate business owners and local efforts from small companies and public administrations to cut costs by closing offices and reducing opening hours.

The French government has published guidelines on what to do if you are struggling to pay your energy bills.
Gas prices have increased by more than 1,000 percent in the past year. Photo by Ina FASSBENDER / AFP

Earlier this week, members of the Confcommercio business association in Perugia staged a protest against the soaring costs by burning their energy bills in a city centre piazza.

In June, the town council for Fluminimaggiore in southern Sardinia trialled shutting off its energy supply over the Republic Day bank holiday weekend – while remaining open for essential services – to save on costs.

Some consumers on fixed-rate energy contracts have so far been shielded from the increases, but that could soon be set to change.

One resident on such a contract reported receiving a letter from their energy company in June “proposing a contractual amendment” that would see their bill tied to national stock exchange gas prices from the start of December, and inviting them to sign a new contract if they didn’t want to accept the change.

READ ALSO

Italy on Tuesday announced new energy-saving rules designed to cut costs, including restricting thermostats in business premises to a maximum temperature of 19C over the winter and reducing the time the heating can be on by one hour a day and 15 days across the year.

The government has signed off on a series of aid packages over the course of the year aimed at buffering some of the shock, and new aid bill is currently under discussion.

For Italian residents and businesses, help can’t come soon enough.

“The combination of expensive energy and the increase in the cost of raw materials has brought about the perfect storm that we feared,” the Lazio general secretary for CISL, the Italian Confederation of Workers’ Trade Unions, told the local news outlet Ciociaria Editoriale Oggi last week.

“Urgent and substantial interventions are needed, to save income and wages, businesses and jobs.”

Member comments

  1. Does anyone know whether the price per Kwh that ENEL pays to those who generate solar power will increase in line with the hike in energy costs?

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

ENERGY

Lights out: How Christmas in Italy will be different this year

As the European energy crisis continues, some cities in Italy have chosen to save on electricity by downsizing regular Christmas displays, thus making this year’s festivities a little less flashy.

Lights out: How Christmas in Italy will be different this year

With less than a month to go until the Christmas holidays, many might be rejoicing at the prospect of finally seeing their cities lit up by dazzling Christmas displays.

But, as the European energy crisis shows no sign of abating and many cities across the boot keep struggling to square their accounts in the face of soaring bills, some residents may be disappointed to know that this year’s festive decorations might differ from the norm.

Milan, Italy’s economic capital, was one of the very first Italian cities to announce it would significantly reduce Christmas displays to save on energy.

READ ALSO: Lights off and home working: Milan’s new energy-saving plan for winter 

After reports emerged in early October that the city would end up spending a whopping €130 million on energy bills alone in 2022, Milan’s mayor, Giuseppe Sala, was quick to warn residents that Christmas decorations would be “restrained” and operate “for shorter periods of time”.

And, it wasn’t long before Sala made good on his promises. 

Earlier this month, the city’s authorities agreed on putting up decorations and light displays on December 7th (that is over two weeks after the usual date) and taking them down on January 6th instead of late January. 

Christmas lights in the streets of central Milan

Christmas lights in Milan will be switched on on December 7th, that is over two weeks after the usual switch-on date. Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP

Also, while in previous years Milan’s city centre was illuminated overnight, this year’s Christmas lights will be switched on at 4pm and switched off at midnight. 

But, while Milan residents might be slightly dissatisfied with the new arrangements, they sure have little to complain about when compared to Rome residents. 

It’ll be a dark Christmas (literally and, perhaps, even figuratively) for most areas of the Eternal City and not merely because of the current energy crisis. 

READ ALSO: Energy crisis: The Italians reviving ‘nonna’s’ traditions to keep costs down

The city’s tender for this year’s Christmas lights contract received no bids before its deadline on October 27th, which means that, in many neighbourhoods, festive decorations will be largely left to the goodwill and financial means of the residents.

So while the popular Piazza di Spagna, Porta Pia and Via Alessandria will light up over the holiday season thanks to private funding, the San Giovanni and Tuscolano neighbourhoods and Via Cola di Rienzo are currently expected to remain au naturel.

Christmas light in a street in Rome

Many areas of the capital, Rome, will be without lights this year due to lack of funding. Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP

Things will generally be better in Venice and Florence, where local authorities have recently chosen to maintain their usual arrangements, the only exception being the replacement of regular lights with energy-efficient, LED ones. 

So, while the lighting might be a little softer and displays might not be as remarkable as in previous years, both cities should be able to deal with late-December energy bills more comfortably than they would have had to do otherwise.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How Italy has avoided a huge hike in gas prices – for now 

Having said that, not all Italian cities have decided to resize their Christmas offerings on the back of eye-watering electricity prices. 

Naples, which has long been known for the extravagance of its Christmas and New Year celebrations, has seemingly chosen to turn a blind eye to the energy crisis and will allocate as much as €1.5 million (that’s €150,000 to each one of the ten local municipalities) to this year’s displays.

Unsurprisingly, the comune’s decision has been drawing widespread criticism, with many local political figures pointing out that part, if not most, of the above-mentioned amount should have been spent elsewhere, perhaps in the form of a one-off ‘Christmas bonus’ for struggling households and businesses.

The available money should have been used to “turn off the crisis and light up people’s hearts”, city councillors Antonio Culiers and Francesco Flores said in a joint statement earlier this month.

SHOW COMMENTS