(Updates with electricity prices)
By Orhan Coskun and Humeyra Pamuk
ANKARA, Dec 22 (Reuters) - Turkey's electricity prices rose to their highest in years, as natural gas consumption soared due to higher household demand amid cold weather, forcing state pipeline operator Botas to cut supplies to power plants and advise industries to reduce output.
Turkey's daily natural gas consumption has risen to above 200 million cubic metres in December, gas industry sources said, from around 175-180 million last month and in same period last year due to colder than average December weather.
To help ease the situation, Botas has cut supply to gas-fired power plants in the public and private sector by 90 percent and advised some industrial firms to reduce non-critical production, energy sources said.
The day-ahead electricity price at Turkey's energy exchange (EPIAS) was 586 liras per megawatt hour and the December monthly average was near 225 liras, both at their highest levels for years, traders said. One trader said the figures were at an all-time high.
"There are issues in meeting the rising consumption," one energy industry source said even though gas flows to Turkey from foreign supplies such as Russia, Iran and Azerbaijan continued without hitch. The three make up nearly 85 percent of Ankara's natural gas imports.
The source said expected deliveries of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in a few days could help alleviate the supply squeeze.
But electricity traders said power prices rallied to multi-year highs on concerns about supply and what they described as lack of planning for winter conditions. They said there was little communication from the state authorities on supply conditions, adding to worries.
"It is obvious that there was neither any planning nor any coordination by the energy administration for these market conditions," one trader said on condition of anonymity.
"It began with Iran cutting supplies to Turkey. Market recovered from that but then came the colder average December, boosting household consumption," the trader said. "The state's response has been to keep cutting supplies and now power plants cannot operate."
On average, around 30 percent of Turkey's power generation is from natural gas although it could rise above 50 percent during winter. It has nearly 80,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity production capacity but cuts in gas supply means those plants cannot operate, thereby reducing supplies.
Iran cut flows of natural gas to Turkey by a third earlier this month due to harsh winter weather, but the flows were back to normal after several days.
(Writing by Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by David Dolan)
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