BAKU, Azerbaijan, Oct. 22
Natural gas price in Europe began to rise in April 2021, eventually increasing eight-fold, currently making up around $1,200 per 1,000 cubic meters, Trend reports.
More than 20 percent of power plants in Europe run on natural gas. Therefore, its rise in price has increased the cost of electricity generation to a record high level. For example, the production of one megawatt-hour of electricity increased in Germany to 302.5 euro and in Spain - to 288 euro.
Experts in Europe name various reasons for the rise, including high demand, COVID-19 pandemic, transition to green energy that hasn’t fully justified itself, seasonal factors and import problems. Despite that the governments use different methods to prevent a sharp rise in natural gas prices, the reality is that this process is spiraling out of control.
Interviewed by Euronews, a 60-year-old Belgian resident Veronica Dukent said that it’s for the first time in her life the coming cold weather frightens her. According to Dukent, she lives in "energy poverty" and millions of other Belgians find themselves in a similar situation. As energy prices rise, women find it increasingly difficult to pay utility bills.
"For example, to make myself a cup of tea, previously I used to use a microwave oven, and now I put water in an electric coffee maker, it uses less electricity. And instead of taking a bath every day, I wash myself twice a week in the shower," the Belgian woman noted.
She added that currently she’s trying to heat the apartment for an hour a day, but if the winter is harsh, she’ll have to wear several sets of warm clothes at home, or miss payments, while getting into debts.
Some time ago, the Belgian government introduced energy benefits to mitigate the effects of the pandemic, but they expire in early December when the cold weather comes.
Meanwhile, the recent change in gas and electricity tariffs in Azerbaijan will not affect low-income families. With the consumption of up to 1,200 cubic meters of gas per year, the tariff for it has been increased from 10 gapiks (5.8 cents) to 12 gapiks (7 cents) per cubic meter.
Electricity tariffs for the population were set at eight gapiks per kilowatt / hour (kWh) for consumption up to 200 kWh, nine gapiks for consumption from 200 to 300 kWh (300 kWh inclusive) and 13 gapiks (7.6 cents) - with a consumption of more than 300 kW/h.
That is, the new change didn’t affect the policy of preferential tariffs for low-income families.
Thus, if the consumption of electricity per person is 50 kW/h per month, and the average family consists of four people, then the consumption per family is on average 200 kW/h per month. That is, electricity will rise in price by one gapik (0.58 cents). Earlier, a family of four members in Azerbaijan paid 14 manat ($8) for 200 kW/h of electricity, and according to the new tariff it will pay 16 manat ($9.4).
As for natural gas, given that its monthly consumption in the consumer basket per capita is set at 21 cubic meters, and the average family consists of four people, the consumption will be about 1,000 cubic meters per year.
Earlier during the year the family paid 100 manat ($58.8) for gas, then according to the new tariff - 120 manat ($70.6). Earlier, an average family of four persons paid 8.3 manat ($4.8) a month for gas, since now it will pay 10 manat ($5.8).
At the same time, on October 16, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev signed a decree "On additional measures in the field of protecting the social welfare of the population." In this regard, the Cabinet of Ministers has already developed relevant proposals.
This order of the head of state covers 1.8 million citizens. The increase in wages will cover about one million people, benefits and pensions – 450,000 people, as well as students and representatives of low-income strata of the population.
According to the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of the Population, next year it is planned to increase pensions, benefits and the minimum wage in Azerbaijan by 20-40 percent.
Thanks to preventive measures, the impact of the energy crisis that broke out in Europe on Azerbaijan has been minimized.