Understaffed authority unable to address consumer complaints

A platform established five months ago by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, to support and protect consumers by accepting their complaints and forwarding them to respective enterprises being criticized, has largely remained futile, restricted by the authority’s acute understaffing problem, despite a considerable inflow of complaints, some 1,400 in total so far.

The platform, myrae, launched last September, has been a letdown for consumers, facing difficulties amid the energy crisis.

Complaints submitted by troubled and frustrated consumers have raised a number of issues, including overcharging claims, lack of electricity-bill transparency by suppliers, as well as calls for intervention by the authority.

RAE’s workforce numbers about 100 persons, of which just 18 are specialized. A further 30 staff members are employed at the authority’s administrative department, while 50 have been hired on temporary contracts expiring at the end of 2022.

The shortage of staff at RAE is highlighted by a comparison to the workforce at Hellenic Telecommunications & Post Commission (EETT), which employs 226 persons, 110 of these specialized, despite overseeing a mature market.


Consumer groups testing RAE price-comparison tool, ready for launch

Consumer groups are testing a price-comparison platform for electricity and gas supply that has been prepared by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, and is now ready for public use after much delay as a result of various difficulties, including technical issues.

The authority’s platform, Paratiritirio, or observatory, aiming to offer consumers easy access to supplier offers and other useful information, appears set for launch, according to Ekpoizo, one of the country’s main consumer groups.

RAE’s platform will offer price comparisons for electricity and gas supply packages concerning household and business categories.

Over the past two or so years, RAE and various consumer groups have received numerous complaints concerning billing information as presented by energy suppliers. Details in fine print have led to higher-than-expected energy supply charges, consumers have complained.

RAE inspecting legality of supplier clauses in fine print

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, is examining the legality of terms relegated to fine print in agreements offered by independent electricity suppliers.

A System Marginal Price (SMP) clause facilitating price hikes in the event that wholesale electricity prices exceed certain levels is a key concern.

The authority was prompted to conduct its inspection after the main power utility PPC announced its intention to follow suit and also implement clauses of its own concerning SMP and CO2 emission right price shifts.

Consumers have lodged complaints arguing such clauses remain vague,  making it unclear as to when they can be rightfully applied. Also, consumers argue they should not have to remain aware of the possibility of tariff shifts in their electricity supply agreements.

RAE is concerned electricity suppliers may be using such terms as a pretext for price hikes. The transparency of such moves is in question.

The energy authority has yet to reach any conclusions or decisions but an outcome is believed to be near.

RAE is also examining the lawfulness of a one euro print-and-mail surcharge just introduced by PPC for all of its electricity bills delivered through the conventional postage system.

The authority appears to share consumer group views seeing this new PPC surcharge as a mere electricity bill hike rather than an incentive for a switch to e-billing.

RAE has yet to also decide on this matter but authority officials have already suggested PPC should not have introduced the charge but, instead, deducted a one-euro amount from electricity bills of consumers opting for e-bills.

Administrative changes at RAE to bolster consumer protection

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, is working on a series of administrative changes, based on legal framework that sets the authority’s tasks, in order to improve its operating efficiency and, ultimately, bolster consumer protection.

The administrative restructruring being carried out at RAE concerns both the electricity and natural gas markets, at wholesale and retail levels.

The revisions being prepared include the formation of new sub-groups, to take on the tasks of exisiting teams; establishment of a new managerial team; as well as the broadening of tasks  certain divisions may take on.

RAE is currently burdened by a major understaffing problem.