The government must move fast to help Italian households and businesses hit by a record rise in gas and electricity prices amid the Ukraine war, League leader Matteo Salvini said on Friday. The only solution may be to ration gas and electricity.
Salvini said that on the energy bill emergency, “the League asks the Draghi government to do things quickly”. Unless energy prices fall, said Salvini, there will be a need to ration gas and electricity.
“We asked for great investment months ago, a budget adjustment, and they said No. Now everyone realises that September and October risk being devastating for households and businesses.”
If Draghi brings to cabinet or parliament even next week a measure worth billions, tens of billions to support household and businesses, the League’s vote is assured.
Gas and electricity prices
Italy’s average electrical power price for Friday rose to a record €718 per MWh.
European gas prices closed at a new record €321.4 per megawatt hours on Thursday. Former industry minister Carlo Calenda called to suspend the September 25 general election campaign to address the energy crisis. The price of gas rose by 10%.
Salvini added on Friday “if the price does not fall, the next government…will have to ration electricity and gas starting with businesses.
“I’d like to avoid it, but Macron has already said [he will ration power supplies], and France has dozens of operational nuclear reactors.
“We haven’t got that, we only import energy from abroad. So if we don’t intervene, there is an absolutely concrete risk of having to decide who will heat their homes and plants and who won’t be able to. Who will turn on the lights and who not,” said the League leader and former interior minister.
Salvini said at least €30 billion would be needed to address the energy emergency.
Ukraine war and Russian gas supplies
Salvini also said Russian sanctions were not stopping the Ukraine war. In the meantime, Italy was “on its knees” amid alleged blackmail on gas supplies from Moscow.
On Wednesday, Premier Mario Draghi said gas and other energy sources had reached “unsustainable” costs. He reiterated Italy’s demand for a price cap at a national and European level.
Draghi has managed to get the EU to commit to considering an energy price cap next month. And while gas stocks are currently around 80%, they should be further boosted so that there would be less impact from a possible interruption of Russian supplies amid the Ukraine war.
He said Russian gas imports “are increasingly less significant and a possible interruption of them would have a lower impact, with stocks currently running at around 80% and in line with the goal of reaching 90% by the end of October”.
Furthermore, Draghi said, unlike other European countries such as Germany, Russian gas was ever less significant for Italian needs. Plans had been laid for savings “at an increasing intensity”.
The Italian government has been working to end the nation’s reliance on Russian gas since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24th. They have reached a series of agreements to boost supplies from elsewhere.
The proportion of Italy’s gas supplied by Moscow has already fallen from 40% at the start of the conflict to around 25% now, sources said recently. Algeria’s share has risen to over 30%.
Fuels giant Eni recently joined the world’s largest Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project in Qatar. On Monday, they announced a highly significant gas find off Cyprus.
Italy’s economy, industry and ecological transition ministries have been looking at ways to help households and businesses to cope with spiraling energy costs.
The government has already passed price-curbing measures and has been asked to use a possible windfall levy on huge power company profits to do more.