Consumer switches from one electricity supplier to another dropped by 20 percent in October, compared to the equivalent month a year earlier, latest data made available to energypress has shown.
Just over 80,000 consumers switched electricity suppliers in October, down from approximately 100,000 in the same month a year earlier.
The number of consumers who changed supplier in October was also lower compared to September this year, when 93,500 consumers shifted, a month-to-month drop of nearly 14 percent.
For the 10-month period between January to October, consumer shifts were up marginally, 2.5 percent, compared to the equivalent period a year earlier.
These latest figures indicate consumers are increasingly hesitant to move from one supplier to another, following more liberal behavior in the past.
Under recently introduced new rules, suppliers are required to announce prices for each forthcoming month by the 20th of the preceding month.
Monthly revisions of offers appear to be subduing the mobility of consumers, apprehensive of price changes from month to month.
Consumer shifts from one electricity supplier to another grinded to a virtual halt in the third quarter of this year, independent suppliers gaining a total of just 1,440 household and small-business customers during the three-month period, compared to the previous quarter, data provided by distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO has shown.
Power utility PPC, the dominant market player, increased its number of household and small business customers by a 850 in the third quarter compared to the previous quarter.
This means that the individual fluctuations of alternative suppliers were caused by movements between private companies.
At the end of September, independent suppliers represented 1.68 million low-voltage customers, while PPC represented approximately 4.97 million.
Zenith gained the biggest number of customers in the third quarter, the company’s rise exceeding 17,000. Heron, Aerio Attikis and Elpedison also gained customers during this period, 7,700, 4,200 and 2,300, respectively. Volton suffered the greatest loss of customers, 13,600, according to the DEDDIE/HEDNO data.
Protergia topped the list of independent players with approximately 287,000 low-voltage customers, followed by Elpedison (276,000) and Heron (249,000), the DEDDIE/HEDNO figures showed.
Working groups formed by the energy ministry and RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, to discuss measures aiming to prevent electricity consumers from switching suppliers, leaving behind unpaid power bills in the process, and also to stop consumers from exploiting a universal electricity supply service, covering the needs of black-listed consumers reported by suppliers for electricity-bill payment failures, will be discussed at a teleconference today.
A decision leading to the formation of these working groups to resolve the two issues was reached in late September at a meeting involving the energy ministry, RAE, and all the country’s electricity suppliers.
Recent market data showed an increasing trend in the number of households resorting to the universal electricity supply service.
It is provided by the country’s five biggest electricity suppliers, in terms of retail market share, who share the pool of old and new unwanted customers and provide the universal supply service, at a higher tariff.
Consumer switches from one electricity supplier to another fell by 6.5 percent in September, compared to the same month a year earlier, a slowdown attributed to monthly price fluctuations discouraging moves.
During the first twenty days of August, consumer switches decreased by 20 percent, reaching approximately 37,700 from 31,200 in the equivalent month of 2021. Customer mobility was even higher during the remaining ten days of August, resulting in an overall 30 percent increase of shifts for the month.
Based on new law, electricity retailers are required to announce their prices for the forthcoming month by the 20th of each preceding month.
In September, customer shifts fell by approximately 6,500, year on year, to 93,500 from roughly 100,000 a year earlier.
Consumers switching electricity suppliers increased by 20 percent in the first 19 days of August, compared to the equivalent period a year earlier, following electricity market revisions introduced August 1 lifting all restrictions concerning moves from one supplier to another.
These revisions were incorporated into an energy ministry package suspending a wholesale price adjustment clause and requiring all suppliers to announce their respective price levels for the forthcoming month by the 20th of each preceding month.
The number of consumers who chose to switch electricity suppliers in the first 19 days of August rose to approximately 37,700 from 31,200 a year earlier.
Consumer mobility in July was down 11 percent compared to the same month in 2021, falling from 68,700 to approximately 61,000, a slowdown attributed to consumers putting decisions on hold in anticipation of the revisions.
Electricity suppliers fear new market rules, to be launched tomorrow, could prompt a sharp increase in the number of consumers shifting from one supplier to another, and, while doing so, leaving behind unpaid electricity bills.
Under the current framework, between 20,000 and 30,000 customers are switching suppliers every month, but suppliers fear the new rules, suspending a wholesale price adjustment clause included in electricity bills, could greatly increase these shifts by breeding greater consumer insecurity.
Suppliers will now need to try and forecast energy exchange price levels for ensuing two-month periods, which has raised fears of further price rises as a safety measure for loss avoidance.
Consumers are entitled to change electricity supplier once a month, without any penalties, to secure the best deals in the market.
Electricity suppliers who have been abandoned continue to be deprived of the right to request power cuts for former customers who have left behind unsettled electricity bills.
An increased number of electricity consumers are switching suppliers, unsettled by the rising energy prices of recent months, the biggest gainer of this activity being power utility PPC, latest market data made available to energypress has shown.
The number of electricity consumers shifting suppliers increased by 50 percent in September, compared to the level in April. Specifically, 1.5 percent of the country’s electricity consumers changed supplier in September, up from one percent in April, the data showed.
Interestingly, the number of consumers returning to PPC, still the dominant player, more than doubled in September, compared to April. This trend is believed to have gained even further momentum in October.
The government’s role in presenting PPC as a safer, more socially conscious enterprise, as well as the company’s pricing policy, offering fixed tariffs, have been identified as the main factors behind this increased return of customers to PPC, market officials noted.
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.