Unpaid power bills rise in absence of consumer supplier switch restrictions

Electricity retailers are facing a growing amount of overdue electricity bills, prompted by higher energy prices and the absence of market rules that could prevent consumers with energy bill arrears from switching suppliers.

Suppliers lost the right to order power supply cuts for customers switching suppliers and leaving behind unpaid amounts following a decision delivered by the Council of State, Greece’s Supreme Administrative Court, approximately two years ago.

Higher energy prices have made it increasingly difficult for households and businesses to keep up with their energy bill payments, suppliers have noted, adding they are offering installment-based payment options in an effort to minimize unpaid receivables.

Since the supreme court’s decision two years ago, RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has proposed a framework offering protection to suppliers but the energy ministry has yet to take any legislative action. Next year is an election year in Greece.

In addition, last July, the ministry abolished a penalty for early withdrawals by customers from their agreements with electricity companies, the objective of this initiative being to pressure suppliers to lower their electricity price offers. Instead, it has enabled strategic defaulters to freely switch power suppliers, leaving behind unpaid amounts.