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Customers with variable-rate plans see record high August power bills

String lights at Kadriorg Park in Tallinn.
String lights at Kadriorg Park in Tallinn. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

August saw record high electricity prices for customers in Estonia with variable-rate plans. Households have responded to soaring rates by implementing various tips to save on energy consumption.

Most Estonian residents on market-based plans received their August power bills Monday, and for many it wasn't pretty.

Jürgen Gansen's three-room apartment employs gas and district heating in addition to electricity, but the increase on year in electricity prices was nonetheless substantial.

"This August it's been €62 combined for both day- and nighttime [electricity]," Gansen said. "If you compare it with the same period last year, there's still a big enough difference in daytime consumption, but that cannot explain the fact that the the total back then was €11."

If his household's consumption hadn't increased, this year's August power bill still would have totaled some €48, or more than quadrupled on year.

Gansen's household has its own tips for keeping their monthly power bill in check.

"I use Nord Pool almost daily," he said, referring to the electricity exchange market. "We typically run the washer and dishwasher late at night or overnight. That's our nightly routine: one could describe it as teeth brushed, then run all the appliances."

Peeter Pihel, who lives in a four-room duplex, was also caught off guard when his August power bill had increased on year from €72 to €177. Even consumption being reduced by 60 kilowatt-hours this year hadn't helped.

"I suppose monitoring electricity prices is the new national pastime of sorts, but at the same time, this is the new reality," Pihel acknowledged.

His family has taken steps to cut back on electricity usage as well.

"Heated floors in the bathroom as a luxury good were a thing of the past last year already, but thankfully we have a fireplace, we've stocked up on firewood and hope to compensate with that a bit," he said. "We stocked up on firewood at the start of the summer already."

According to Agnes Roos, board member at Estonian state-owned energy group Eesti Energia, their household customers' average electricity bills had gone up by a little less than 10 percent last month, however in terms of a single month, the situation is most difficult for those on variable-rate plans as well.

"Variable-rate clients' bills have increased nearly 50 percent, precisely because we saw very high prices in August," Roos said.

She noted that she sees no signs of a sharp drop in electricity prices happening anytime soon and added that people will have to get used to the fact that there will be no stable electicity prices to come anytime soon.

Record high prices in mid-August

Electricity prices in Nord Pool's Estonian price area reached record highs just over two weeks prior, with the daily average price for August 17 reaching €682.05 per megawatt-hour and the hourly price peaking €4,000 per megawatt-hour, which is also the power exchange's cap.

The overall average in Estonia last month reached €361 per megawatt-hour, up from €233 per megawatt-hour in July.

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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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