Energy firms would be entitled to order electricity supply disconnections for customers who have failed to pay two successive electricity bills, regardless of the amount, according to a new proposal made by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, in a third round of public consultation concerning a new framework for power disconnection and consumer supplier switching rights.
RAE has also recommended giving suppliers the right to disconnect electricity supply for consumers switching suppliers and leaving behind two successive unpaid electricity bills, even if new contracts with a new supplier have already been signed.
Over 500,000 consumers switched electricity suppliers in 2020, according to RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, a level maintained for a second consecutive year, highlighting the momentum bringing about change in the retail electricity market.
Latest RAE data showed that 530,064 consumers in the low and medium-voltage categories, of 6,796,034 in total, switched consumers in 2020.
The greatest rate of mobility was registered by low-voltage consumers in the business and industrial categories. A total of 103,382 consumers belonging to these categories, or 8.83 percent of 1,170,250, overall, switched suppliers.
Low-voltage household consumers followed with 8.69 percent, or 423,141 of 4,871,122 in total, switching suppliers, the RAE data showed.
Power utility PPC remained the main supplier in 2020, representing 77.8 percent of the total number of low and medium-voltage connections and 63.2 percent of total electricity consumption, RAE reported, noting, however, that these figures fell by 6 and 8 percent, respectively, compared to 2019.
Electricity suppliers will have the right to prevent consumers from switching supplier if owing two or more overdue power bills without having registered for any installment-based payback plan, according to a proposal forwarded by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, following two rounds of public consultation on the matter.
Suppliers will have the right to submit power supply cut requests to the distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO for consumers owing at least two months of overdue and unattended power bills, according to the RAE proposal, which has received the backing of all electricity suppliers.
A debt-flagging system to blacklist customers behind on at least two electricity bills will also be incorporated into the measure as a collective system accessible by all suppliers and the distribution network operator.
In the event that consumers with overdue electricity bills register for installment-based payback plans with their supplier, then move to a new supplier but stop servicing the payback program, the previous supplier will have the right to request power supply stoppages, even for pending amounts as little as 50 euros, sources informed.
RAE will now need to relay its proposal to the energy ministry for a ministerial decision enabling a revision of the country’s electricity supply code.
Electricity suppliers have agreed, in principle, on new rules proposed by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, for customer switching, but demand greater clarity on a rule concerning the imposition of an upper limit on outstanding bills owed by customers seeking to switch suppliers.
Seven suppliers – power utility PPC, Protergia (Mytilineos Group), Heron, Elpedison, Volterra, Zenith and Fysiko Aerio/Hellenic Energy Company – and two associations – ESPEN (Greek Energy Suppliers Association), ESEPIE (Hellenic Association of Electricity Trading & Supply Companies) – took part in second-round public consultation staged by RAE, requesting views on three topics.
Preparations for the introduction of a debt-flagging system – the public consultation procedure’s second topic – offering general protection to suppliers by informing and preparing them on the track records of incoming customers, are headed in the right direction, participants agreed.
They also backed a RAE proposal that would permit suppliers to request electricity supply cuts from distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO for exiting customers who have not settled outstanding electricity bills.
This measure promises to contribute to more effective management of electricity-bill debt and support supplier receivables, participants pointed out.
RAE, in its proposals, sets a six-month limit for suppliers to take action against customers once they have switched companies.
RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, will present for public consultation eight electricity supplier switching models used abroad following the rejection of a local version by the Council of State, Greece’s Supreme Administrative Court, and suppliers, energypress sources have informed.
This essentially means the entire process is beginning from scratch.
The models used abroad will be presented along with related proposals for comments and observations by electricity suppliers and any other interested parties, the objective being to reach consensus on a new set of supplier switching rules for the Greek retail electricity market.
Authorities will seek to shape a new model that will clamp down on serial electricity bill dodgers while also enabling free movement of punctual consumers from one supplier to another.
The previous model, adopted on September 1, was rejected late last month after being deemed faulty. It was marred by major obstacles, discouraging consumers to seek optimal solutions.
Several thousand electricity consumers were blocked from switching suppliers in September, a trend that has continued this month, following a rule revision enabling suppliers to stop their customers from switching to rivals if they have not fully settled outstanding energy bills, suppliers have informed energypress.
Distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO implemented the new rule at the beginning of September following a request by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.
Though suppliers have sought closer monitoring of outstanding electricity bills linked with consumers preparing to switch companies, the new rule’s level of strictness is believed to even be impeding the mobility of punctual consumers with small and unintentional arrears left to pay.
Suppliers are now concerned about the measure’s impact on competition as even the smallest of bureaucratic obstacles can be enough to deter consumers from switching energy companies.
Consumer switches, both from power utility PPC to independent suppliers and from one independent firm to another, are currently high and would be even higher if the new restriction were not imposed, company officials noted.
Suppliers have protested that the rule revision was not preceded by public consultation.
The energy ministry is preparing to introduce tougher electricity supplier-switch rules for consumers with electricity bill arrears.
Some 83,000 former power utility PPC customers managed to find ways to abandon the utility while owing unpaid electricity bills worth a total of at least 164 million euros, industry data has shown. Worse still, the problem appears to be getting worse.
Besides PPC, independent suppliers are also experiencing the pinch of fleeing customers at a growing rate. The value of unpaid bills left behind by independent supplier customers has reached between two and three percent of total revenues, data has shown.
Though former energy minister Panos Skourletis had decided to toughen up on electricity supplier hoppers back in May, 2015, the current energy ministry, the PPC board and independent suppliers all believe the rules can be stricter.
Consumers running away from their electricity bill debts appear to be exploiting rule deficiencies discovered in supplier payback programs offering debt settlement through monthly installments. Once registered for these payback programs, consumers are able to switch suppliers.
In other cases, electricity consumers – especially enterprises – looking to vanish from supplier radars are changing tax file numbers.