Transfer rights of consumers with arrears examined by RAE

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has launched public consultation procedures for revisions to regulations concerning consumer transfers to alternative electricity suppliers when considerable amounts are still owed to former suppliers. The move confirms a preceding report by energypress noting the authority was examining how such matters are managed in other parts of Europe.

The RAE initiative, regarded by some as a first step towards the implementation of regulations restricting the transfer rights of electricity consumers with arrears, comes following insistent pressure by the main power utility PPC, at times expressed aggressively through affiliated union groups, for action by the authority to prevent consumers from switiching suppliers when their electricity bills have not been settled.

In response, prior to the current public consultation procedures, RAE had forwarded letters to electricity retailers describing their efforts to attract consumers with outstanding electricity bill amounts elsewhere as an “unfair practice”.

A consensus has definitely not been reached on the matter at RAE. Certain members believe luring customers with outstanding electricity bill amounts elsewhere represents bad policy. Others at RAE argue unpaid overdue bills cannot restrict free market activity, noting that the overall objective is to establish a liberalized electricity market. These critics also point out PPC had remained tolerant for years as overdue unpaid bills of many consumers, in many cases able to pay but not willing, were left to accumulate as a result of irregular commercial and collection policies at the power utility. PPC may take legal action against such consumers, RAE members in favor of free consumer movement also contend.

Independent electricity suppliers are currently vying for shares of Greece’s retail market, dominated by PPC. As part of the bailout agreement, the power utility must reduce its market share to 50 percent by 2020.