YEREVAN — Armenia’s troubled power distribution network was fined 60 million drams ($126,000) on Wednesday for what state regulators called a violation of consumer rights. The fines were imposed on 11 decisions.
The Public Services Regulatory Commission (PSRC) penalized the Electricity Networks of Armenia (ENA) utility for demanding earlier this year advance payments from residents of newly built houses and apartment blocks needing access to electricity.
The ENA’s embattled chief executive, Yevgeny Bibin, ordered such payments in March in addition to regular connection fees collected from new consumers. The Russian-owned company promised to deduct corresponding sums from their electricity bills for the next few years.
Many of those home owners seeking power supplies rejected the ENA’s extra charges, leading the PSRC to investigate the matter.
At the session, the company’s lawyer tried to obtain postponement for the commission’s decisions, but Robert Nazarian, the PSRC chairman, declined the request calling the company’s objection demagogy.
Bibin told the commission that he rescinded his order on June 23 even though he believes that it was justified given his company’s grave financial situation. “Is that right or wrong? That is certainly bad for consumers,” he said.
Nazarian rejected the explanation. “If you decide what is right and what is wrong, then why are you dealing with this commission in the first place?” said Nazarian. “You can give yourself orders and ignore Armenia’s laws and regulations.”
The Electric Networks of Armenia, a subsidiary of Russia’s INTER RAO UES, enjoys the sole right to distribute electric power to consumers in Armenia.