Cyprus households on average pay 9.6 per cent of their annual income on electricity bills found a survey conducted by the energy switching site Save On Energy. This represents €1,563 per year based on an average salary €16,215 per annum. According to the same survey, Cyprus has the seventh highest rate in Europe per kWh at €0.224.
Everyone knows the reason for this – the Electricity Authority of Cyprus monopoly, which has been doggedly protected by the unions so that their members can carry on being paid substantially higher wages than the average salary mentioned above. The average household has a lower disposable income so that EAC employees can carry on enjoying a long list of benefits, including massive pensions much higher salaries than the average.
The outrage is that all the political parties, with the notable exception of Disy, protect this appalling monopoly and have backed the unions’ in opposing the opening up of the energy market that should have taken place some six years ago. Poor families have to survive with a lower disposable income so that EAC employees can maintain their privileged working life and none of the caring politicians of the opposition parties can see this.
Energy policy is determined by the EAC unions, which include the Authority’s top management, and has the sole objective of maintaining the monopoly. EAC unions insisted they should control power production as well as the electricity grid, agreeing after years of resistance that these could be separated as long as the Authority controlled both. While this was arrangement was supposed to have been ready by 2018, calculated prevarication has put the date back to 2022/23.
Unions could blame successive governments for failing to import natural gas that would lower production costs but that is only because they had insisted that the gas should be imported by a state monopoly. This was in order to prevent the establishment of private electricity production units securing their own gas supplies and selling at lower rates. The fact that there are not many photovoltaic parks, despite Cyprus having the most sunlight hours in the EU, is also down to the EAC unions because they saw these as a threat.
During the lockdown, earlier in the year, the EAC reduced its rates by 10 per cent across the board, acting like a charity organisation helping out households because of hard times. This had cost the Authority €35 million, said its chairman handing over the annual report for 2019 to the president. Should we have been grateful for six months of lower bills, having been paying extortionate prices for decades?
Or should we be grateful to President Anastasiades who said during the handover that by 2022, when natural gas is finally imported electricity rates will be lower? He would have been in power for nine years by then and would have been an accessory to the crime being perpetrated against households by the EAC unions protecting this scandalous monopoly.