Public Services Regulatory Commission of Armenia (PSRC) has unanimously decided at its June 17 session to increase the tariff for electricity supplied to consumers by 6.93 drams. Starting August 1, 2015, a kilowatt-hour of energy will cost 48.78 drams during the daytime (previously – 41.85 drams), and 38.78 drams – the nighttime (previously – 31.85).
After the announcement of the decision, citizens present at the meeting started shouting “Shame!”, “You are pro-Russian.”
Parallel to the session, about 3 dozen citizens held a protest action outside the PSRC office, guarded by Armenian Police. The protesters demanded an end to debates on electricity tariff hike, and urged PSRC Chair Robert Nazaryan to call an international audit to find out how ENA has accumulated its debt of AMD 23.4 billion, which was one of the reasons for the hike in electricity tariff.
At some point, the demonstrators threw eggs at the Commission office, resulting in clashes between police and protesters. Five people were detained, and one journalist was taken to the hospital for hand injuries.
The participants of the PSRC session also inquired as to what the reasons behind the ENA's huge financial losses could be. These losses, Robert Nazaryan said, were not caused by the Electric Networks of Armenia.
“The reasons behind these losses are not related to the ENA. We note three reasons: aridity in 2013; the 88-day standstill of the nuclear power plant in 2014; aridity again in 2014. As a result of these and other causes the company suffered losses of AMD 37 billion, part of which has been paid, and AMD 23.4 billion is left,” Nazaryan said.
The PSRC Chair criticized the ENA for not having a representative at the June 17 session. The ENA General Director Yevgeni Bibin had sent a letter, in which, as stated by Nazaryan, he warned the Chair that if the electricity tariff increased by only 6.93 drams, the ENA might not be able to provide an uninterrupted electricity supply.
“Mr. Bibin accuses us of a non-system approach. The ENA demanded a rise of 17 drams, only 10 drams of which were related to them. We have already rejected those 10 drams and justified [this decision]. I do not wish to give an assessment, but this is the first time when a licensed company submits an application to the PSRC and does not participate in the session. I don’t want to say certain words, because any of them would be mild, but if I choose others, [these words] might be too rude,” the Chairman said.
Yevgeni Bibin, according to Nazaryan, is threatening the Commission, which is “unacceptable.”