The first meeting of the thematic group Energy Poverty and Energy Efficiency at the local level, was held on May 30. The price of electricity for households and the price of firewood and the related position of energy-endangered customers were the main topics of the discussion.
There is a well-founded fear that a significant number of citizens will not be able to heat their homes this coming winter. Nada Lazić, Special Adviser for Sustainable Development at the Ministry of Human and Minority Rights and Social Dialogue, presented data that 7% of Serbia’s population lives in absolute poverty, while an additional 23% live in poverty. In addition, according to the Regulation on Energy Vulnerable Customer, 662,000 households have the status of vulnerable customers, while another 70,000 requests are pending.
In order to overcome this problem before the winter period, the participants agreed upon the combination of two possible solutions. Resolution of the first part of this puzzle would be the establishment of temporary collective centers during the winter, so that the most affected and endangered would have a “warm bed” during the winter months, especially in case of extremely cold weather waves. The second part of the solution is of a more administrative nature and refers to the change of the tariff system for the calculation of electricity price. According to Aleksandar Kovačević, from the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, the tariff system is one of the important aspects of the current uncertainty in supply, especially because it is impossible to calculate the average energy price due to variations that depend on the season. In short, a substantive reform of the tariff system would ensure rational consumption of electricity.
While the establishment of collective centers is a temporary solution to get through the next winter, the establishment of a new tariff system would be a significant first step in the necessary reform of the energy system in the years to come.