Detailing the government’s seven-point plan to keep household utility bills low, Gergely Gulyás, the prime minister’s chief of staff, said domestic gas production will be increased from an annual 1.5 billion to 2 billion cubic meters.
Citing a ministry report, he said the extraction of gas fields could be increased further. Gas prices are high enough that it is even worth using more expensive technologies in gas extraction, he added. The government has also mandated the minister of foreign affairs and trade to procure more gas, Gulyás said. Hungary’s natural gas storage facilities are currently 44 percent full, which is enough for three months, he said, adding that the aim was to have as much gas available as possible.
As part of the measures, the government is also introducing an export ban for energy, including firewood, Gulyás said. Also, lignite extraction will be stepped up and the blocks at the coal-fired Mátra power plant will be restarted, he said. The government will also initiate extending the lifespan of the Paks nuclear power plant, he added. Meanwhile, he said a blanket cap on household electricity and gas prices was “simply unaffordable in the current wartime energy crisis”. The utility price cap scheme will therefore be limited to average consumption levels from August 1. Those who consume more energy than the average will have to pay the market price, he explained. Average monthly electricity consumption in Hungary is 210 kWh, while an average household consumes 144 cubic meters of gas a month, Gulyás said. Three quarters of households will not be affected by the change because their consumption is below the average level, he said, adding that market prices will only apply to consumption over the average for the remaining one quarter of households as well.
Szilárd Németh, the government commissioner in charge of the utility price cap scheme, said that going forward, the consumption threshold for the reduced gas price for a family with three children will rise to 2,329 cubic meters a year from 1,729 cubic meters. The threshold increases by 300 cubic metres for every additional child, he added. The government’s new measure and the utility protection fund aim to ensure that the utility price cap scheme can remain in place, Németh said. He said that under the scheme, an average consumer’s monthly electricity bill comes to 7,750 forints (EUR 19), which would be 50,833 forints without the utility price cap. Meanwhile, the average monthly gas bill totals 15,833 forints rather than 131,441 forints thanks to the scheme, he said. The scheme saves consumers 158,691 forints a month, Németh said.
Photo credit: MTI