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Greece to Restore Electricity to Poor Disconnected Households

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Electricity in Greece
A religious icon hangs on a wall beside electricity meters for private apartments in a residential housing block in Thessaloniki, Greece, on Nov. 7. 2013. Photographer: Konstantinos Tsakalidis/Bloomberg

Dec. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Electricity will be reconnected to poor families in Greece that can’t pay their bills after at least four deaths in the past 10 days caused by people using candles and makeshift heating devices.

Power will be restored to “vulnerable social groups” to be identified by new committees in cities and towns, Greek Energy Minister Yiannis Maniatis said in a statement on Dec. 7. Their names will be added to lists of poor households maintained by the Public Power Co., he said.

A 13-year-old girl in Thessaloniki died from carbon monoxide poisoning on Dec. 1 after breathing fumes from a heater her family used because they didn’t have electricity. At least three other fire-related deaths have been reported by the Athens News Agency. There were more than 257,000 disconnections in the first nine months of the year because of nonpayment of bills, putting Greece on pace to surpass last year’s total by 5.4 percent, according to the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

“We have asked local governments that hold soup kitchens, to compile lists of people that are not already enrolled with PPC’s pricing for special groups programs and to send to this special committee names of people that have had their power cut,” Maniatis said in interview with Mega TV today.

The price of electricity has increased 59 percent for residential consumers since 2007, partly because of higher consumption taxes, according to the European Union statistics agency. The high cost of power and the number of cutoffs spawned a movement of underground electricians who are reconnecting poor homes illegally, Bloomberg News reported on Dec. 5.

About 10 percent of disconnected homes were illegally reconnected, according to the Hellenic Electricity Distribution Network Operator SA, which maintains the Greek power grid.

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To contact the reporters on this story: Oliver Staley in London at ostaley@bloomberg.net; Eleni Chrepa in Athens at echrepa@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Lisa Wolfson at lwolfson@bloomberg.net

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