According to the State Statistics Service, at the end of February 2020, before the start of restrictive measures related to quarantine, the population’s arrears in payment for supply and distribution of electricity amounted to 5.4 billion.
As of the end of February 2019 the population has accumulated the biggest debt for electricity – UAH 6.1 billion. To recap, according to the law “On the Electricity Market in Ukraine”, all Ukrainian regional power companies had to complete the separation into two companies in December 2018: the distribution system operator (DSO) and the electricity supplier; for the population and small household consumers, this function is performed by universal service providers.
A simple change in the usual rules, even against the backdrop of a more or less stable economic situation, led to an increase in debt over two months by more than a billion hryvnias – from UAH 4.8 billion at the end of December 2018 to UAH 6.1 billion at the end of February 2019. Not even an active information campaign helped with an explanation of what is the reason for these changes, how and who should be paid for the service consumed under the new rules.
But the lowest level of debt – UAH 4.5 billion in September 2019 – was also reached due to changes. The electricity market has started its work under the new rules since July 1 in Ukraine. The media actively covered this event, focusing on the thesis “now it’s exactly like in Europe” and introducing people to the European experience of supplier-consumer relations. Struck by stories about how easy it is to be left without electricity for debts, Ukrainians began to pay off debt. But the state did everything to ensure citizens not to worry too much about debts and from October the non-payment curve went up again.
We don’t want to fantasize how the quarantine ban will affect the debtors in any way, but the forecasts are not too optimistic.