Public Council of Armenia Holds Discussions on Problems of Power Industry

Armenia’s Public Service Regulatory Commission voted on June 17 to increase electricity tariffs, sparking public outrage (Source: Photolure)
Armenia’s Public Service Regulatory Commission voted on June 17 to increase electricity tariffs, sparking public outrage (Source: Photolure)

Armenia’s Public Service Regulatory Commission voted on June 17 to increase electricity tariffs, sparking public outrage (Source: Photolure)

YEREVAN (Panorama)—The Public Services Regulatory Commission of Armenia (PSRC) has sent invitations to five global companies that provide consulting services on power industry management, asking them to submit proposals to the commission, head of the PSRC financial department Hayk Ghusalmyan said today during discussions organized by the Public Council of Armenia.

According to Ghusalmyan, invitations were sent on July 27, and companies are expected to respond within 10 days.

Ghusalmyan said that the consulting companies were asked to answer two questions: how justified is a rise in electricity tariffs in Armenia, and what dangers to Armenia’s power system may arise in the event that tariffs are not raised. Electricity tariffs are scheduled to increase by 6.93 drams in Armenia on August 1.

At the meeting, Armenian Deputy Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Areg Galstyan said the audit to be conducted of the Electric Networks of Armenia (ENA) will include not only an inspection of the company’s financial activity, but also its management, losses, necessity of investments, and personnel policy. The work will be done as part of activities of an interstate commission.

A member of the Public Council, Ashot Ashotyan, was skeptical about the planned audit. He predicted that the audit would conclude that the tariff increase is legal—that all its documents are in order, and that everything is alright.

President Serzh Sarkissian said at a June 27 consultation with economic policy officials that cancelling the tariff rise would be “very dangerous”. For this reason, the government will cover the tariff increase until the conclusion of the audit of the ENA.

“Of course, we will not pull out the ongoing programs or social expenditures, but will identify other resources among the means allotted for the further strengthening of [energy] security,” Sarkissian said.

“Certainly, our security issues are far from being solved, to say the least, and yet that environment of suspicion and distrust that we have now, I think is another security issue and a very important one, and that must be solved. And if that conclusion [of the audit] confirms the price increase is well-based, from that moment on the consumers will begin paying the new tariff without having any suspicions. Should the conclusion confirm the increase had been groundless, the government would take measures to get refunds from the ENA on the amount surcharged, as well as bring to account those officials that failed on their duties,” Sarkissian said, noting that under such conditions the work that the government started a few months ago to change the owner of the ENA will become certain, but that the option of returning the company to the state and transferring it for competitive management has not yet ruled out.

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