Energy Minister George Papanastasiou was cautiously optimistic on Wednesday that a hike in electricity bill prices may be averted, however, he said the final decision would be taken by the electricity authority (EAC) board on Thursday.

Speaking to reporters after a cabinet meeting, he said that EAC is a regulated service and is therefore required to submit its expenses to the regulatory authority (Cera) with the ultimate aim of recovering these expenses.

“The costs which can be submitted for claims are specific ones. Cera decides whether it will accept these costs. Some may be deducted, some accepted.

“As a result of these talks, an increase or decrease follows, and essentially the burden falls on the costs of the kilowatt per hour, which the consumer pays.”

In this specific case, the issue stems from last year, when the EAC saw a 25 per cent increase in costs.

Cera however rejected the EAC’s request for the same increase in bills.

As a result, the latter took the case to an administrative court.

For this year, “there has been an additional increase, irrespective of last year’s, which amounts to a six per cent cost hike.”

Papanastasiou said following instructions from President Nikos Christodoulides, he suggested to the EAC’s board the previous day to discuss this and drop the case.

“The board was positive yesterday but the final decision will be taken in the next board meeting, this Thursday. I believe they will be positive.”

Electricity subsidies

Where subsidies for electricity bills are concerned, Papanastasiou underscored this is a suggestion made to the finance ministry depending on the current market, whether that be electricity costs or fuel costs.

This will be weighed against the cost this will bear on the government’s finances.

Currently, the matter is being assessed by the finance ministry, he said.

LNG terminal

Asked about the contentious liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal project in Vasiliko, Papanastasiou said the ministers did not discuss the matter during the cabinet meeting.

“The Council of Ministers cannot get involved in any arbitration process in London. There is the issue of the construction of the terminal, which has been halted, there is the issue of the floating unit which is owned by the Republic of Cyprus but not in its possession because the unit is located in China.”

The Chinese-led consortium behind the LNG project submitted a statement of claim before a London arbitration court seeking to claim increased costs from the Republic of Cyprus due to technical problems and delays surrounding the project.

Papanastasiou described the move as “audacious” saying the consortium was claiming €200 million in arbitration.”