BBG: Greeks Forced to Steal Electricity to Survive



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In a detailed report, Bloomberg refers to the thousands of Greek households that reconnect their electricity supply illegally on their own, as they cannot afford electricity bills. The reason behind Bloomberg’s report was the tragic death of a 13-year-old girl in Thessaloniki by carbon monoxide poisoning caused after a mother used a brazier to heat their home. The mother could not afford heating or electricity which resulted in her power supply being cut off.

The article mentions that the inability of Greek households to pay their electricity bills is another consequence of the high rate of unemployment in Greece. In fact, the number of the Greeks that are currently unemployed is estimated at 1.37 million.

According to the Regulatory Authority for Energy there was 257,002 disconnections because of unpaid bills in the first nine months of the year 2013, putting the country on pace to surpass last year’s total by 5.4 percent.

This situation of electricity power disconnections, led to the initiation of “electricians’ movement,” comprised of a group of people who illegally restore power supplies for themselves and others. Hellenic Electricity Distribution Network Operator S.A’s data show approximately 1 of 10 households will have their electricity power supply reconnected illegally.

Bloomberg: “This practice is part of a wider pattern of protest and resistance sweeping Greece. Angry citizens have formed solidarity committees that have seized state buildings, distributed food and medicine and helped fuel the rise of the Coalition of the Radical Left, called SYRIZA, into Greece’s main opposition party.”

According to the power distribution company, HEDNO, there were 3,500 Greek households that had their electricity supply reconnected illegally, 310 of which have been taken to court, as Melina Kalampoka, a spokeswoman, mentioned in an e-mail. The company wants to avoid prosecuting low-income or other “socially vulnerable” families, she stated.

The austerity measures demanded by Greece’s international creditors in return for their financial support, led Greek people into this desperate situation. With the cuts in their salaries and pensions, the high rates of unemployment, the new taxes and of course the increase in the consumption tax, it is no wonder that an average Greek household will not be able to pay the electricity bill.