Your electricity bill is about to go up. Photo via Wordpress.

If you don’t already, start switching the light off when you leave the room: your electricity bill will increase in the first few days of February.

This means your March utility bill is set to see a slight hike (unless you already receive government aid to pay your bills. Which you probably don’t.)

Energy Secretary Juan José Aranguren confirmed the projected increase in an interview with Radio 10 yesterday, which he explained is a measure designed to tackle the “energy emergency” declared back in December.

“We lost the habit of conserving energy here in Argentina but I trust that we can get it back, not only because there will be a tax that forces us to conserve more but because when there’s an [energy] shortage, we ought to be more careful in our household usages,” Aranguren  said.

As outlined by Cronista, the government argues that within the Capital, where energy is primarily provided by private companies Edenor and Edesur, approximately 2 million users pay less than AR$ 1 per day, which comes out to less than AR$ 60 every two months.

Or, as Finance Secretary Alfonso Prat-Gay genially put it, if a family’s energy bill increases from AR$ 150 to AR$ 350, that’s still only the price of “two pizzas.” (Which begs the question if Prat-Gay’s pizzas are topped with beluga caviar and minced caribou: someone send the man a list of more affordable pizza places.)

However, the government added that approximately 20 percent of users will be exempt from the tax hike, as it intends on looking at data provided by the National Social Security Administration (ANSES) and tax collection agency (AFIP) to determine which portion of the population requires government aid to pay their utility bills. Those families would be allowed to continue paying current taxes when they consume under 150 kilowatts.

Yesterday, Aranguren also announced a 6 percent rise in the cost of gas. He’s quickly becoming the country’s favorite minister.

Argentina, and Buenos Aires in particular, has been in the throes of an energy crisis for some years now, as most starkly observed during the summer months when blackouts become a weekly (if not daily) occurrence.