Electricity consumption rises after introduction of universal service

Tallinn. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

While Estonia's electricity consumption has fallen over the past year, there has been rise since the introduction of the universal service last month which could push prices up.

"What we are seeing today in terms of overall consumption in October is that consumption continues to be lower than forecast. If we look at the impact of the weather and compare it to last year, consumption is actually down by over 10 percent. So maybe this price has a very clear impact," Rasmus Armas, Elektrilevi board member, told Friday's "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK).

The company cannot yet release data about consumers' changing usage patterns.

But startup Gridio, which focuses on optimizing electricity consumption, has already noticed changes.

"If we compare with the previous month [September], we can see that peak consumption has risen by about 20 percent. It's too early to say whether this is because of the universal package, different weather conditions, the clock being turned and so on, but we can safely assume that some consumers are now more confident in their use of electricity at peak times," CEO Konrad Hanschmidt said.

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

At the end of September, 24,000 people were following price forecasts but this has now fallen to 8,000.

Hanschmidt said consumption should be harmonized which would lower prices and it would reduce gas consumption, saving it for the future.

This would be useful if any power plants in the region break down at any point in the coming winter which would lead to a hike in prices.

"If we have a situation like we had last winter, where power stations in Estonia broke down, and in addition to that, for example, our connections with our southern neighbors or our northern neighbors are also not working, then we could have a situation where we don't have enough electricity, and we will have to take emergency measures, and that will lead to very high prices," Hanschmidt told AK.

Kristjan Järvan Source: ERR

The usage level also affects the cost of the universal service but Minister of Enterprise and IT Kristjan Järvan (Isamaa) said it is not reasonable to change the price now.

"Since the actual profit share of universal service generation is 1.4 cents per kilowatt-hour, this is actually the maximum difference between how much the night and day tariff can differ. Perhaps the question now is whether or not people will shift their consumption significantly because of the one-cent difference" said Järvan.

Last month, it was reported that approximately a third of private consumers opted to join the new universal electricity package. Electricity providers believe fewer people joined because the price is too high, something Järvan denied.

The price has been set at 19.24 cents per kilowatt-hour from October 1 and can be used by households and small businesses. 


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Editor: Helen Wright

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