Companies' surcharges for low electricity tariffs for the population may increase significantly. This year, in 21 regions of the Russian Federation, network tariffs for businesses increased by 10-20% at once, exceeding the maximum all-Russian level of indexation. The reasons were high inflation, the need to compensate for the accumulated shortfall in income of grid companies and a ban on increasing tariffs for the population. As a result, the volume of load on commercial consumers in these regions, according to analysts, will increase by at least 18%, to 95 billion rubles.
Tariffs for the transmission of electricity for business in 21 regions of the Russian Federation rose above the all-Russian limit of 9%, follows from data from the analytical company Time2Save. The regulators of these regions increased single-part tariffs by more than 10.5% compared to July-November 2022.
The highest growth - immediately by 20% - occurred in Mordovia. In the Kemerovo and Sverdlovsk regions, tariffs for high and medium voltage increased by 18%. In the Novgorod region - by 16-19%, and in Novosibirsk, Perm and Astrakhan - by almost 16%.
In some regions, which sharply increased the network tariff, the final price of electricity also jumped. For a retail consumer, it consists of a transmission tariff (about 50%), the wholesale price of energy production (about 40%), a marketing surcharge and payment for other infrastructure services. So, in the Sverdlovsk and Orenburg regions, the price for a low-voltage business in December 2022 increased by about 10% mom, and in Mordovia and the Volgograd region - by about 13%, in Novgorod - by 15%. In the Leningrad region for consumers at medium voltage, the growth was 10%, in the Novgorod region - by 14%.
In December 2022, the government carried out an unplanned tariff indexation within 9%. Regulators cannot increase the tariff for the population beyond the ceiling, but have the right to exceed the maximum level for business. The next indexation is scheduled for July 1, 2024.
The regions have previously enjoyed the right to exceed the maximum level of tariff indexation for business, but this year the number of such decisions has tripled. In 2022, only seven regions asked for higher tariff indexation, says Sergey Sasim from the HSE Institute for Economics and Regulation of Infrastructure Industries.
Attention is drawn to the magnitude of the excess itself, the analyst notes. He believes that the regions took this step due to high inflation and a longer period before a new revision of tariffs. Against the background of these factors, the regional authorities, fearing the problems of reducing the reliability of energy supply, apparently, are more willing to exceed the ceiling, the expert believes. This time, the government has set a single ceiling for the entire country, which does not allow taking into account the regional peculiarities of the work of network companies.
In regions with a sharp increase in network tariffs for businesses, the amount of cross-subsidization (additional payment by businesses for lowering tariffs for the population) has also increased markedly. In total, the volume of cross-subsidizing in 20 constituent entities of the Russian Federation increased by 18%, to 95 billion rubles, Sergey Sasim calculated. Depending on the region, the growth rate ranged from 6% in the Kemerovo region to 58% in the Omsk region.
The FAS told Kommersant that they plan to complete the analysis of information on tariff decisions in the first quarter and cannot confirm the level of cross-subsidization of 95 billion rubles. Possible excesses of the tariff in the regions may be associated "with the need to implement the investment program and infrastructure projects, bring tariffs to an economically justified level, compensate for previously accumulated shortfalls in income of regulated organizations," the service clarified.
“Regulators can restrain network tariffs and reduce the “crossroads”, but the tariff requests of monopolies are often left without a thorough analysis of the relevance and justification of costs, and the burden on the rest of the economy grows unhindered as a result,” says the Community of Energy Consumers.
The government sets the allowable amount of cross-subsidization, but in 2023 the limits were expanded. The maximum level of subsidies is allowed to be increased by the forecast consumer inflation, as well as to take into account the dynamics of productive supply for the population, Sergei Sasim points out. “Progress in the area of reducing cross-subsidization has not yet been observed. Instead of developing targeted support for those in need, the government again decided to resort to the practice of increasing cross-subsidization of all household consumers,” he states.
It is still difficult to predict how the volume of cross-subsidization in Russia will change next year, but there are no prospects for its reduction. Thus, in 2014, the maximum annual level of cross-subsidization in the country totaled 229.38 billion rubles, and in February 2022 the government raised it to 241.2 billion rubles. (see Kommersant dated February 22, 2022).