Getting retail markets' basics right is key to put consumers in the driving seat, EURELECTRIC says

23 February 2016

“Everyone agrees that consumers should be at the centre of energy markets but it won’t happen until they get the right information and cost structures enabling them to engage with the energy they need”, says Hans ten Berge, Secretary General of EURELECTRIC on the occasion of today’s  Citizens’ Energy Forum (‘London Forum’). Whilst the European Commission is to release legislative proposals at the end of the year, EURELECTRIC urges policy-makers to get the retail basics right. This should start by making sure that (i) regulated prices are phased-out, (ii) electricity bills reflect electricity costs, (iii) prosumers are integrated in the markets, (iv) fit-for-purpose smart meters are rolled-out and (v) adequate protection is in place for the most financially vulnerable. At a time where smart grids and smart homes are considered granted by many, these most basic principles have in fact still not been implemented in most member states.

EURELECTRIC is also concerned by the calls from EU and national authorities to standardise bills or energy offers. Whilst clear principles have to be set by regulation, market players should have room to innovate and satisfy the varying needs and preferences of their customers. The joint statement on improved comparability of energy offers that BEUC, EURELECTRIC and EUROGAS just signed - and officially released today in London - is a living proof that consumer associations and suppliers can converge on ways to help customers navigate the market more easily. The three associations indeed agreed that suppliers can further support the comparability of energy offers by providing customers with certain information in one place in a short, easily understandable, prominent and accessible manner whilst dismissing the idea of a standard template.

Today, EURELECTRIC is also publishing an update of last year’s infographics ‘Making sense of your electricity bill.’ Unsurprisingly, the trend of soaring taxes and policy costs witnessed in the last years continued through to 2014. The average EU household electricity bill in 2014 was made up of 37% of energy and supply costs, 26% of network costs and 36% of taxes and policy costs. “The new data we publish today should not come as a surprise to anyone. What is particularly disconcerting though is that as from 2014 European households pay as much for electricity as for taxes and policy costs. As the power sector makes strides towards sustainability and electricity becomes decarbonised, its role as Europe’s fuel of choice is jeopardised because of the burden put by governments on its final price”, commented Hans ten Berge. The newly released EURELECTRIC data shows that it is all the more urgent that European policymakers rethink how costs are levied on everyone’s bill if Europe is to reach decarbonisation at the lowest possible cost to all consumers.

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