Armenia’s state utility regulators have announced plans to raise the price of electricity for households by more than 10 percent one year after sanctioning an even sharper increase in the key energy tariff.
The Public Services Regulatory Commission (PSRC) gave no reason for the planned price hike in a statement released this week. Nor did it clarify when the measure will take effect.
The electricity price soared by almost 27 percent in July last year following a surge in the cost of Russian natural gas supplied to Armenia. It is used for generating roughly one-third of the country’s electricity. The Russian gas price has remained the same since then and is not expected to rise in the next few years.
Garegin Baghramian, a senior official at the PSRC, attributed the fresh tariff rise planned by the regulators to financial losses reported by power plants and the national electricity distribution network. Speaking to RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am), Baghramian said that the existing retail price does not allow them to operate at a profit. He ruled out the possibility of their inefficiency or mismanagement.
The official rationale is unlikely to satisfy the Armenian government’s political opponents and especially ordinary people. “They have stolen and plundered and live well and think that so do the people,” said one man in Yerevan. “My pension is already barely enough to pay my electricity bills.”
“When they raised the energy tariffs several months ago the authorities said that they will remain unchanged for the next few years,” argued Hrant Bagratian, an opposition parliamentarian. “At least, this is what was said about gas. I can’t understand why they are going to do this now.”
Naira Zohrabian, another opposition lawmaker, similarly said a senior Energy Ministry official assured her last month that electricity supplied to households will not become more expensive.
The electricity price is currently set at 38 drams (9 U.S. cents) per kilowatt/hour. The PSRC wants to raise it to 42 drams per kilowatt/hour.