An unidentified number of Greeks seem to suffer from heavy deficiency of “collective consciousness“. They absolutely refuse to share common beliefs and moral attitudes which usually operate as a unifying force within a society, especially in times of a crisis, and it is often expressed in form of solidarity. I don’t know what kind of Greeks they are, what are their political beliefs and moral attitudes. But, for sure, I know that they have an extraordinary portion of audacity with which they slender their way through the world, they look into their very own petty interests and are skilled on how to take advantage of situations and laws. Like the one law that protects impoverished households from power cuts due to debts to the Greek Public Power Company/DEH. The law applies to the very vulnerable groups of the society like the unemployed, the low-pensioners, the people with disabilities.
However some Greeks believe that they are better and smarter than the rest of the country’s population and that they have the right to live on the expenses of the rest of the society. Therefore, some shipowner, some rich businessmen decided to make the use of such a law and sneaked into the ‘power outage protection system’. They kept using electricity without paying their bills and their debts to PPC/DEH have mounted to some 20,000 euro in just one year.
But they kept receiving electricity.
Their foul play was revealed just recently, when the outstanding debts at the PPC reached the exorbitant amount of €2 billion!.
The PPC started to make electronic cross checks in its consumers’ subscription accounts in order to see who owes how much and why it is not paid. The capital controls imposed end of June have burden the Greek Electricity Company with a debt mountain as high as 2 billion euro.
According to a report published by daily TA NEA:
– The owner of a villa of 500 sq. m. and an Olympic-size swimming pool located in Athens north suburb of Nea Erythraia has been owing PPC, 18,000 euro. But he/she was beneficiary of PPC’s “social tariff” for the poor and needy households. Therefore the PPC could not cut the premises electricity due to that specific protection scheme. It seems that the debtor had stated ‘eligibility to social tariff’ due to unemployment. Power consumption: 25,000 Kwh per 4-months.
– Another resident in Athens’ North suburbs, in Psychiko, enjoys a living in a 480-sq-meter villa and a debt of also 20,000 euro to PPC. The said person is reportedly descent of a shipping family. Power consumption: 15,000 Kwh per 4-months.
– Eligible to social tariff scheme is also a businessman, a former football official, with a villa in noble Varnavas suburb. He had allegedly a debt of 34,000 euro to PPC, moved to another electricity provider but the debt remained.
In total, the PPC controls revealed that 17 villas in the noble north suburbs of Athens had a total debt of 400,000 euro.
According to TA NEA, as soon as the PPC discovered the fraud, it cut the electricity supply and they rushed to make settlement for their debts. Seven to eight PPC customers made settlements, two kept their properties without electricity. One was protected from the Social Tariff and the PPC could not proceed to power outage.
“The examples of those who can pay but they don’t are endless,” the newspaper notes and adds that “a large part of outstanding debts do not come from impoverished households or bankrupt businesses, as one would assume, but from wealthy ‘welsher’ (μπαταξής in Greek).
The PPC has recently cut the power to all these, natural persons and entrepreneurs, who had claimed they were unable to fill their debts. when the power was cut, they rushed to make settlements.
Most impressive is, however, that these consumers had done several settlements of their debts to PPC in the past but they had failed to pay the disbursements. In some cases, the power was never cut as some phone call by some “political friend” would reach the PPC offices. In other cases, the cut power was illegally reconnected, despite the fact that the PPC/DEDDHE crews had to check the connections.
From November 2014 to May 2015, power transmitter DEDDHE has filed 1,000 lawsuits for illegal connection of power.
Hotels on Rhodes
The problem is not located in Athens only. At national level, the PPC cross checks revealed that 50 of the largest hotel complexes on the island of Rhodes have debts over 6 million euro.
45 out of 50 hoteliers in Rhodes signed directly the debt settlement when they were confronted with “pay or have no electricity” ultimatum.
5 to 6 did not respect the settlement conditions, i.e. to pay a certain amount on monthly basis, while another 5 did not make any settlement at all.
When the PPC ordered the power cut for 11 debtors-hoteliers with aggregated debts of 1.4 million euro: one paid immediately the debt as soon as the PPC crew arrived to cut the power, the rest rushed to meet their obligations, one after the other.
So much for TA NEA report.
In real Greek life, I have a neighbor with a debt of 800 euro to PPC. She has no connection to the political world neither some contacts to the powerful. I recently found out that she has been living without electricity since last March. I told her to go make a settlement. Professionally, she is a teacher of chemistry and has been working as a tutor. With proper assignments in the past, but only on and off in the last two-three years. Her last euro from her was spent last February.
The middle-aged woman told me that she has been awaiting for the new school year to start and that she hoped to could get an assignment to a tutoring school (frontistirio). She could be paid 5 euro per hour and get no more than 300-400 euro per month gross. She told me that if she could make a settlement with PPC only if she would get an assignment. Otherwise she would be unable to pay the monthly tranches. Without tutoring assignment, she will be keep living in the dark in a middle-class suburb of Athens.
PS Collective Consciousness: good to know that it can exist.