The energy situation in Albania remains concerning due to a lack of rain, but money from the EU will help, said Prime Minister Edi Rama during a meeting with Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Thursday (27 October).
Albania produces almost all of its electricity through hydropower plants, and then during the winter, imports the deficit in fossil fuel energy from neighbouring countries. But the situation is not looking suitable for the months ahead.
“We are currently seeing it, there is no rain, and the sky is shining from the sun. The news is bad,” Rama said.
In September, the government asked citizens to reduce consumption and said that anyone using over 800kw a month would pay a higher rate-almost quarter of the current subsidised rate. But just before the new rule was set to take effect, the government backtracked as heavy rain saw the country’s hydropower plants increase in capacity.
But a dry rest of the month means the government is mulling the price band once again if customers cannot reduce their usage.
“Albania has the lowest inflation in the region, and the main reason is that we have a financial shield for the price of energy. Second, we will not increase the price of energy. Placing a band is not an increase, but the setting of a ceiling, below which every family can meet basic needs, without needing more,” he said, noting Kosovo has had a similar system for a long time with no issues.
Regarding the €80 million coming from the EU to help meet challenges posed by the crisis, Rama said he was grateful for it, and it would cover a quarter of the sum needed to continue subsidising energy rates.
“€80 million in grants is not a little; it is a significant figure. To answer the question of how many parts of the real need are there to protect the price of families, they are one-sixth. If we refer to this year, we needed €460 million.”
The prime minister also announced that windfall taxes would be levied on three large energy producers who have not helped the state or citizens during the last year.
“We will impose the extraordinary tax over three major energy producers. It is a tax for the three major energy producers in Albania. They can’t make staggering profits because of luck, and we don’t have a chance,” he said, adding the money would be used to support those in need.
Earlier this week, Energy Minister Belinda Balluku said the energy situation is worrying, with all hydropower plants running significantly low. However, she also noted that energy consumption has decreased by 5%, demonstrating awareness from citizens, and more rain is expected in the coming month.