The legality of the amounts billed for utilities will be questioned
The Russian authorities are seriously concerned about the problem of temperature swings, which lead to an imbalance in heat supply. The State Duma approved changes to the heating payment system in Moscow. The document is intended to prevent a repeat of the disgrace of 2022, when, after a cold winter, residents of apartment buildings received payments with an impressive bill for heat. Then the sharp increase in fees was argued by recalculation for the service. The adopted bill makes it possible to split the annual February adjustment in the readings into 12 months and pay in equal installments. What are the disadvantages of the new scheme and will it be extended to all regions of the country? Experts told MK about this.
Now in Russia there is a rule according to which at the beginning of each calendar year heating charges are recalculated. This is done due to the fact that heat supply organizations experience cash gaps: when the amount of investments does not correspond to what is actually required to supply heat.
Meanwhile, in recent years, so-called “temperature swings” have appeared in the central part of Russia. Sharp temperature fluctuations lead to the fact that recalculations began to reach 50%, or even 100%. This causes social discontent, as well as problems associated with the economic activities of resource supply organizations. For this reason, the authorities decided to conduct the following experiment.
The adopted document describes in some detail the mechanism for making calculations. Firstly, this new approach will only affect those citizens who pay for heating according to the standard, and not according to actual consumption (when there are individual heat meters). Secondly, the consumption of previous years will be taken into account - on their basis, the average statistical standard for the current year is made. And the adjustment (which is billed for the next period) will be divided into 12 parts and can be paid not in one amount at once, but monthly.
According to the managing partner of the communication agency B&C Agency, Ivan Samoilenko, this will precisely avoid a situation where the amount of adjustments for heating turns out to be very high and a large amount must be paid immediately.
“Energy suppliers are forced to make these adjustments every year, since consumption can be either higher than the standard or lower (depending on weather conditions in winter). This is done to equalize the average cost of heating,” he continues. – If the use of this approach based on the results of the Moscow experiment becomes significant social support for citizens, it can be extended throughout the country. Which in the current economic conditions will be a justified and popular measure.”
But there will also be disadvantages for consumers. According to ONF expert in the housing and communal services sector Pavel Sklyanchuk, people will have no leverage left over the guaranteed supplier of heat energy.
“How much heat enters the house, the consumer will be required to pay. Taking into account the recalculation, say, for a five-year period, and not for the previous year, this will be quite a significant figure, which can be characterized as the average temperature in the hospital. It will not always be clear whether heat supplies were justified or overestimated, says MK’s interlocutor. “We will proceed from the fact that regional authorities and the suppliers themselves are bona fide market participants, and they will not abuse their monopoly position.”
Sklyanchuk also added that trust in the transparency of the payment calculation system is also undermined by the fact that there are no precedents when recalculations are made downward, when after cold winters people are returned part of the money paid for current payments for thermal energy. Meanwhile, heat still remains the most expensive service in housing and communal services bills.
“The main advantage of the new scheme is that residents will not have large recalculations at the end of the year. This entire amount will be spread over a five-year period,” he concludes. “I think the experiment will be recognized as successful and this scheme will be extended to other regions of Russia.”