Supplier switching model from scratch, 8 foreign models to be discussed

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.


New bill arrears rule restricting electricity consumer switches

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.

Tougher supplier switch rules for consumers being prepared

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.