Yelena Ivanova, Natalia Seibil
There are at least 349,000 happy households in Russia. That is how many, according to the Ministry of Energy, were able to connect their homes and cottages to the power grid for 550 rubles. Starting this year, all those who will connect electricity will be 100 times more unhappy, or rather, poorer.
The Ministry of Energy has revised the cost of the "last mile" not only for small, medium and large businesses, but also for citizens. Previously, it was possible to connect 15 kilowatts, and use one, two, or ten. It did not affect the cost of connection in any way. Citizens reported to networks, as a rule, the maximum value. Those built in accordance with this wire and installed equipment. Now the connection will be much more expensive. For each connected kilowatt, you will have to pay 5 thousand rubles. If you connect 15 kilowatts, the cost of the service will increase to 75 thousand rubles, or 136 times.
The logic of the Ministry of Energy can be understood, experts say. Since there was no difference in the cost of the application for connection, everyone chose the maximum, but in fact did not use it. Grid companies were building infrastructure with only 20% capacity used.
- Power engineers complain about the abundance of applications even for 15 kW, there are a lot of them, the connection plan is scheduled for a year or two ahead, which is also a problem. And if this is also superimposed on the applications that they fulfill, and then the energy is not consumed, then this really creates an overall load on the infrastructure, which is distributed among all those who connect in the form of tariffs. I am not ready to defend the position of the Ministry of Energy. I understand their logic , - says Artyom Tuzov, executive director of the capital market department of IC Univer-Capital.
Connection is a one-time procedure and an investment, recalls Ilya Dolmatov, Director of the Institute for Economics and Regulation of Infrastructure Industries of the National Research University Higher School of Economics. Since 550 rubles is a negligible fee for this service, it provoked manipulations by the same developers:
- These were manipulations related to the fragmentation of land plots in order to get 15 kilowatts of preferential connection from each plot for 550 rubles, and in fact the power engineers had to build entire substations. For them, this resulted in millions of rubles, but in fact they received a certain payment. If we were talking about the fact that the economically justified price was increasing, it would be unpleasant.
At the request of Novye Izvestia, the ministry itself replied that the main goal of the law is not to abolish benefits, but to reconfigure them:
“The law fixes approaches to determining the amount of the fee, so that, on the one hand, possible abuses and dishonest behavior on the part of consumers when submitting an application “in reserve”, and on the other hand, to prevent a significant increase in costs for already operating small and medium-sized businesses , agricultural producers, public sector consumers. At the same time, benefits for consumers are becoming more targeted. For example, privileged categories of the population will also have a preferential procedure for connecting to networks.
But the preferential connection will bite - for every kilowatt, the owner of the house will pay 1000 rubles, or 27 times more than the old price.
Everyone else will pay in full. The logic of networks, like any natural monopoly, is simple: if you have money to build a house, you will have money to connect electricity to it. At the same time, the Ministry of Energy is well aware that even if you can live in a house without gas, you cannot live without electricity.
History is silent about how the Ministry of Energy calculated the new rates.
- I proceed from the fact that the Ministry of Energy was guided by a certain balance between the real costs of connecting such consumers and the ability of citizens to pay for it. This is an averaging, because some consumers may require more expenses, others less, - says Ilya Dolmatov.
The ministry says that the adopted law defines general approaches, and the specific cost of connection will be determined by by-laws, which are still being developed and will go through all the necessary stages of public discussion.
"We would like to emphasize that the announced figures on the increase in fees for connecting to electricity networks for the population are a preliminary assessment by the expert community", - the press service of Novye Izvestiya reported.
Officials say that the tariff of 550 rubles has been in effect since 2004 and leads to billions in losses for grid companies.
“This is a blow not only to the wallets of citizens, but also to the entire area of individual housing construction. Including social programs - this applies to the "Far Eastern hectare", and preferential mortgages, and plots for individual housing construction for families with children”, - says politician Sergey Mironov.
Of course, regions can set their own support measures. If one of them says that they are ready to continue subsidizing, then the cost can be reduced. It will not be a law, but the good will of the authorities, and it exists today, but it does not exist tomorrow.
It is obvious that with 350,000 new connections, and that is how many houses grid companies have connected to the grid, you cannot modernize the infrastructure, no matter what the Ministry of Energy says. For the sake of what then to start this asocial action, it is not clear. It is also unclear what to do with those who have already applied for connection, but have not yet connected to the network. What rate will they pay?
There is one more reserve for network companies - summer residents. There are 11 to 15 million of them in Russia, according to various estimates. Officials say that old connections will not be reviewed. But it is in garden associations that there is a practice that the connection to electricity is not direct, but through the board. Network companies want to switch to direct contracts with homeowners. This opens up a large field of activity - and a source of money. As always, citizens will suffer.
- I cannot say that the population will be satisfied with this measure. Increasing the price always causes dissatisfaction. I proceed from how justified this measure is or not. Here it is necessary to carry out an explanatory campaign, because it is necessary to understand that there used to be a privilege: which, in fact, is canceled today. But this tariff remains affordable for the population, which is engaged in the construction of houses, expansion of capacities, and so on. If he has enough current loads, this does not lead to an increase in payment , - says Ilya Dolmatov.
The new tariffs are being introduced against the backdrop of high inflation and stagnating household incomes. This decision looks like an attempt by the network companies to take a bite out of the pie that others are happy to eat. If construction prices have risen, building materials have risen in price, gasoline is becoming more expensive, then why not take part in this celebration of life?
The 26.5 billion that all networks can earn in a year if the number of connections remains the same as in 2021 is not the limit. So they see where they can earn. So the citizens will have to fork out.
Comment of the Ministry of Energy:
The main goal of the law is not to abolish benefits, but to reconfigure them, to make them more targeted, directing them towards those consumers who really need them.
With the current grid connection payment mechanism, there were many cases when consumers requested excess capacity in applications for connection to the power grid, since the cost of such connection for them practically did not change. Consumers what is called "in reserve" ordered capacities, but in fact they did not use it.
This has led to significantly excessive grid construction, increased costs and, as a result, created an additional tariff burden for existing consumers, as grid companies have to build and maintain, as it turns out, redundant power grid infrastructure.
The bill fixes approaches to determining the amount of the fee, so that, on the one hand, possible abuses and dishonest behavior on the part of consumers when submitting an application "in reserve", and on the other hand, to prevent a significant increase in costs for already operating small and medium-sized businesses, agricultural producers, public sector consumers. At the same time, benefits for consumers are becoming more targeted. For example, privileged categories of the population will also have a preferential procedure for connecting to networks.
The main goal of the functioning of the electric power industry is a reliable, uninterrupted and affordable energy supply to consumers, and the necessary construction of networks and generation for the development of the economy of our country.
The changes will improve the reliability of networks in the regions, especially during periods of adverse weather conditions, by channeling the released funds for repairs and modernization of power grid facilities.