Power utilities in the Western Balkans region will suffer serious consequences because they imported electricity at prices several times higher than those at which they sold it to end customers, according to Jasmina Trhulj, Head of the Electricity Unit at the Energy Community Secretariat. She added that the ongoing energy crisis is not a state of emergency, but a new reality.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the energy crisis, and the war in Ukraine, electricity prices in the region were at around EUR 50 per megawatt-hour (MWh), and then they surged, reaching as high as 540 MW at one point.
Currently, the prices are around EUR 200, while long-term forecasts for the coming years see them at around EUR 150.
In the meantime, as Jasmina Trhulj said, the price of electricity for consumers has remained unchanged almost everywhere. The situation will create too much pressure on the energy companies in the region, which are the dominant suppliers in the market, according to her.
Power companies imported electricity at a price three to five times higher than their retail price
Since January 1, the retail price has changed only in North Macedonia, increasing by 11% for households and small consumers, Trhulj said at the panel “Market liberalization and the benefits of establishing a regional electricity exchange,” held as part of the NET 2022 conference, organized by Montenegrin state power utility Elektroprivreda Crne Gore (EPCG).
There was a lot of pressure on companies, especially in countries that are net importers, such as North Macedonia, Serbia and Kosovo*, she added.
These companies imported electricity at a price three to five times higher, while their retail price remained the same, she said, adding that it is completely clear such a situation will lead to serious costs for them.
Of note, an electricity price increase was recently announced in Serbia, while in Kosovo* the decision to increase the price has been suspended.
Measures taken so far have only served to put out the fire
Speaking about the current situation on the market, Jasmina Trhulj pointed out that the energy crisis is not a state of emergency, but a new reality. She pointed out there are no systemic reforms in the region.
The changes implemented so far have only served to put out the fire and mitigate the consequences of the energy crisis, Trhulj added.
Predrag Savić, director for Southeast Europe at GEN-I, also believes that the current situation can be called a new reality. An energy crisis was seen in the region in February 2012, and then in the spring of 2016, but today’s energy crisis is a major one.
The right term is a new reality, Savić pointed out, adding that the current situation in the energy sector is not at all rosy.