As Kommersant expected, after an inspection, the FAS ordered the authorities of the Irkutsk region to revise electricity tariffs for households and businesses for 2024. The region, according to the service, violated the rules: it sharply increased tariffs for businesses, but did not introduce preferential consumption limits for citizens. Now the regional authorities need to make a choice by May: to reduce the burden on business by 2 billion rubles. at the expense of your own budget or introduce a social consumption norm for households. Analysts do not expect significant changes, since the region can formally set high limits for citizens without reducing the burden on business.
The FAS ordered the abolition of new electricity tariffs for households and businesses in the Irkutsk region for 2024. The Tariff Service of the Irkutsk Region published tariffs at the end of December 2023, but the regional body violated the requirements of guidelines and government regulations, according to the FAS order (published on February 1). FAS ordered the tariff authority of the Irkutsk region to correct errors and change tariffs by May 1. They will begin to operate on July 1.
In Russia, electricity tariffs for the population are artificially restrained and are below the economically justified level. The regulator shifts part of the burden into the tariff for industry, that is, business subsidizes the population. Each region has a maximum level for this subsidy. In 2023, business paid an additional 294 billion rubles for the population; in 2024, the additional payment may exceed 300 billion rubles.
After checking the Irkutsk decisions, the FAS found that the volume of cross-subsidization (additional payment by local businesses for reducing household tariffs) in the region at such tariffs will amount to 8.029 billion rubles. for 2024. However, the maximum value of this indicator established by the government (Government Resolution 1178) is 5.73 billion rubles. If the ceiling is exceeded, the authorities of the Irkutsk region are obliged to compensate for the excess burden on business in the amount of 2.3 billion rubles. at the expense of the regional budget, but they did not do this.
The authorities of Irkutsk had the right to exceed the maximum level of cross-subsidization if they introduced new tariffs for the population with differentiation based on consumption volumes. However, the region did not do this either, the FAS order notes. According to Kommersant, the regional tariff authority unexpectedly canceled a meeting at the end of 2023 on the topic of installing diphtariffs for the population. According to unofficial data, the service of the Irkutsk region wanted to set a preferential limit at the level of 20–25 thousand kWh per month per household, which is twice the technically maximum possible consumption of a 15 kW facility.
But in the end, the regional authorities decided not to tie the tariff for the population to the volume of consumption: for the urban population, the single-rate tariff from July 2024 was set at 1.58 rubles. for 1 kWh. The average Russian value is about 4.5 rubles.
As Kommersant reported on December 20, 2023, the FAS plans to cancel tariff decisions in 20 regions in total due to exceeding the maximum level of cross-subsidization. The abolition of tariff decisions in the Irkutsk region “was an inevitable event,” says Sergei Sasim, director of the Center for Electric Power Research at the Higher School of Economics. The volume of cross-subsidization is 40% higher than the permissible value, and the distribution of subsidies by voltage levels also does not comply with the methodology.
The practical actions of the regional leadership, Sergei Sasim believes, do not indicate a desire to actively combat the growth of cross-subsidization. Household consumers in the region, according to his calculations, underpay for electricity by an average of 84 kopecks. from every kilowatt-hour, which has already led to an increase in illegal mining in the region. This problem is superimposed on systemic changes in the region’s energy system, where the share of industry in electricity consumption has sharply decreased – from 74% in 1989 to 56% in 2022. Population consumption has increased from 4% to 15% and continues to increase. As a result, low voltage networks of 35 kV and below were overloaded.
“The region’s power grid complex, thanks to tariff distortions, is chronically underfunded, and the deliberate and unjustified understatement of the cost of electricity for the household sector will increase the negative consequences of these trends,” says Sergei Sasim. “The longer the region shows indecisiveness in correcting price distortions, the more complex the consequences of this indecision will be.” in future”.