I know that many of the readers of this blog are either in the process of buying a property or contemplating a purchase down here in Puglia so at the risk of boring the pants off everyone else I felt I should share some of the stats just out from Eurostat the EU agency on the price of electricity and gas ( for North American readers that is not gasoline) ! (What was it George Bernard Shaw said about two great countries separated by a single language?).
The price of electricity in Italy for an average 3 bed house is €0.230 per kWh and has increased 19% from 2010. It is the 5th highest price in the EU and as a yardstick is +28% above the figure for the UK. The cost of gas is €0.97 +22% on 2010 which is 43% ahead of the UK price. Italian gas is almost the most expensive in the EU despite having some of the largest untapped gas fields.
Why are the Italian prices so high, well surprise surprise it is TAX. Apart from Denmark (just) Italy taxes both products the most in Europe. 58% of the price is tax compared to 4% in the UK. So when we read in another report about how 17% of Italian families can no longer afford to heat their houses in winter there is but one culprit .
What is rather fun is to see the countries with the biggest increases and those with the smallest. Portugal +23%, Italy +19%, Greece + 17%, Spain +23%, and Cyprus an eye watering +44%. Notice anything ? Yup they have all had a dose of Frau Merkel’s austerity water boarding. And the lowest well France +7% Germany +9% Denmark +9% and Luxembourg -2%. The UK has both its own home made austerity and a good dose of Green pricing so has seen electricity increase by 23% and gas by 38%.
Now there are a couple of important things to remember when looking at these Italian figures. Most if not all of the houses here lack insulation and so you are going to be using more of the product as you attempt to do your bit for global warming by radiating heat. I know the EU made it law in 1992 that all new builds and houses being renovated in any way must include insulation but this is Italy. Migratory birds heading south for the winter gather on my roof and it takes me days to get them to fly away as they warm their feet. Now on the electricity front if you don’t obtain a residents permit, which you won’t if it is a second home , then you pay about 30% more. I know it is illegal to demand a permit from someone with an EU passport but hey it’s also illegal to mix cured and fresh meats but try telling that to an Italian butcher. The other important point is the price above gives you 3kW delivered to your house by Enel. That means if you turn on a washing machine, a kettle and your hairdryer the power cuts off. If you want 6kW then you can double the price to €0.46 per kWh. Now that is eye watering isn’t it especially if you are thinking of installing say air conditioning !
Gas is strange here too ( what isn’t ) . Most towns have natural gas delivered by pipe to the house but the supply is cut during the day. Not I hasten to add because of supply issues but for green reasons which sounds like an excuse the Soviet Union used to use ! The price is lower for that supply but the price the EU use is for GPL or LPG gas which comes by truck and is put into large tanks in the garden.
Okay enough of these statistics let me ask you a quick question. What is the most lucrative song ever ? Yes, I know like me you think Yesterday by the Beatles or White Christmas say. Well no it is not. It’s a simple 3 cord song with just 208 words, much shorter than this post. Got it yet ? No, well the writer and singer ( same person) was born in Key West and I have featured it on this blog .
It is Margaritaville by Jimmy Buffet ! Yesterday he opened his 27th Margaritaville , this time in Atlantic City. A monster $35M complex of some 40,000 sq. feet. The empire the tune has spawned is enormous just look at margaritaville.com if you don’t believe me .
Indeed he has a lot to drink about !
Now it is a private company so they don’t have to publish accounts but in 2007 they showed a profit of some $100M and the business has grown exponentially since then so it is a safe bet that that simple ditty about a drunk looking for his lost shaker of salt has made Mr Buffet a host of cash and good luck to him.