Finally takes the field the government to try to bring order to the chaos on the unilateral changes in the electricity and gas tariffs proposed by the companies to their users despite the prohibition set by the aid decree bis. However, the orientation is not at all in favor of the consumerssome of which indeed could be particularly damaged with bills even more salty to make the companies recover the lost. With a pass in Milleproroghe decreeapproved last December 21, the executive extend the ban of changes from 30 April to 30 June 2023 but also clarifies the point most disputed by the companies. Establishing that the block does not apply to expiring contracts. Users who are part of that audience should therefore look for a better offer using the Offer portal of theEnergy Authority.
What the Milleproroghe says – “The first sentence does not apply to the contractual clauses which allow the electricity and natural gas supplier company to update the contractual economic conditions upon expiry of the same, in compliance with the terms of notice contractually provided for and without prejudice to the right to withdrawal of the counterparty”, reads the latest draft of the decree which has not yet been published in the Official Gazette. The legitimacy or otherwise of the ban on tariff changes also for contracts that had expired was a question controversial, over which the companies have announced a tough legal battle. L’Antitrust, in its latest measures, has also extended the block to expiring contracts, an interpretation obviously contested by suppliers. Which, starting with IrenDolomiti and Enel, have appealed to the Tar and the Council of State to assert their position.
The pronouncement of the Council of State – The sentence on the merits of the Lazio Regional Administrative Court is expected in mid-February and in recent days the Council of State accepted Iren’s request to suspend the precautionary measure precisely in the part of expired contracts imposed by the Antitrust, agreeing with the interpretation of the society. According to the CdS, the authority guaranteeing the competition would have given an “extensive interpretation of the limiting law provision which can lead to prejudice affecting individual companies or prospectively systemic that do not appear adequately evaluated”, reads the ordinance.
In reality, the benefits of the law as born in the Aiuti bis dl are in doubt from all points of view. Some companies, especially the mere sellers who are also in great difficulty due to the increase in prices, may not renew the contracts that have expired if they do not go bankrupt directly. So much so that in recent months many suppliers have sent letters to customers tout court cancel the existing contract claiming that they can no longer guarantee the same conditions.
The risks for consumers – Furthermore, there is the risk that in the face of a frozen price until June of the more “lucky” contracts (i.e. those that fall within the norm), the companies will now try to recover what they have lost by renewing expiring contracts and in general on all contracts that do not fall within the norm. All without any consideration of the incomes and the various economic situations, but on the basis of a completely random principle: if the contract expires before June 30, the sting comes, if it expires after you are protected. In any case, when the blockade expires, the companies will still try to make up for it. Already this summer, Iren itself in a communication to customers admitted that “the consequence not envisaged by the regulations” (dl Help bis, ed) it will be that “at the expiry of the contracts (mostly from 1 December 2022) these prices will be greatly affected, and in a single detachment in the middle of the winter period, by the increase in raw material costs in recent weeks”.
In short, it promises to be a gloomy picture. Just while for users who have not switched to the free market but still have enhanced protection contracts the cost of gas – according to estimates by Nomisma Energy – in December it will rise by 20% (as opposed to that for electricity, for which a 25% reduction is expected in the first quarter of 2023).
How and when to choose a new supplier – So what can consumers do for defend yourself? First of all, we need to be sure that our contract falls within the block of unilateral changes. In fact, the rule applies only to those who have stipulated a contract in the “free market” at a fixed price or for the fixed portion of contracts always in the “free market” with a variable price, while the remaining portion continues to change according to the trend of the Pun for electricity and PSV for gas.
If we return to the block but the supplier is imposing a change that is too onerous, we can always change. There are various portals that compare the different offers, including those of consumer associations and the offer portal of theEnergy Authoritywhich among other things established that from January 2023 sellers will have to include in the bill the link – separate and with due evidence – to the Arera web page for the consumer, with information on the ‘Electricity and gas offer portal’ (to provide information on switching to another supplier and to learn about price comparison tools), “Energy and Environment Consumer Desk” (to obtain information on dispute resolution and on the publication of current offers) and “Consumer Portal” (to compare current electricity consumption of the customer with that of the same period of the previous year, as well as to access additional information on historical consumption and usage).
For their part, SOStariffe.it and Segugio.it warn that “electricity and gas are the only markets where – if we are not insiders – we have a lot of difficulty (and perhaps today we are unable at all) to understand how much we are paying and what are the real commercial conditions that our supplier is reserving for us ”. The two comparators have attempted to clarify: there are only two parameters on which consumers can intervene to reduce spending. To evaluate the convenience of an offer it is necessary to know the fixed cost of supply, independent of consumption and expressed on a monthly or annual basis, and the unit cost of energy, expressed in €/kWh for electricity and €/Scm for gas. And know how these two factors vary over time. For indexed rates, the energy cost is updated monthly. For fixed-price rates, however, it depends on the length of the promotional period.
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