Power cut measure for moving customers difficult to apply

Main power utility PPC’s request for an electricity market measure blocking customers with arrears from switching supply companies if outstanding amounts have not been settled or inducted into a payback plan with installments may have been implemented but it will be difficult to enforce.

Alternative suppliers and, primarily, officials at HEDNO, the Hellenic Electricity Distribution Network Operator, locally acronymed DEDDIE, believe enforcement of the measure, an initiative taken by energy minister Panos Skourletis, will prove to be an extremely difficult task in practice.

An amendment made to the preceding market regulations in order to shape the new rules states that a customer’s previous supplier retains the right to request the disruption of power supply, even in cases where an agreement have been signed with a new supplier, in the event that the payback program for settlement of outstanding amounts through installments is not being honored.

Many market officials contend the regulation is unconstitutional, while, according to independent suppliers seeking to increase their market shares, the measure is depriving the electricity market of full competition.

Citing various paradoxical cases, critics argue that PPC has tolerated customers with arrears and permitted their debts owed to the utility to rise. In addition, the utility generally does not cut power supply to customers who owe amounts of less than 1,000 euros but pounces on them and cuts supply should they seek to switch suppliers.

Critics also argue that PPC, or any previous supplier – as PPC has, until now, ruled the electricity market, the majority of customers transferring to alternative suppliers are leaving PPC – maintains the right to cut power supply to customers who have switched suppliers, causing financial damage to the latter, who are not in a position to know about the customer’s old debts and the level of risk involved when taking them on board.

Technical issues also make the energy ministry’s measure difficult to enforce as the system’s computer network is not programmed to accept customer power cut supply requests forwarded by one supplier to another.