European Charter on the rights of energy consumers launched


Andris Piebalgs,
EU Energy
Brussels, Belgium — (METERING.COM) — July 6, 2007 – A new initiative to develop an Energy Consumers Charter has been launched by the European Commission, following the opening of EU energy markets at the start of July and the opportunity for consumers to choose their energy supplier.

Consumers represent 27 percent of the total EU electricity consumption market, but do not have much influence on the energy market as individuals, and therefore public authorities must create the conditions for consumers to exercise their choice, looking for the most advantageous offer, confident that their rights will be safeguarded, especially if they decide to switch, says the Commission in its Communication on the Charter.
“The Energy Consumers’ Charter aims to inform citizens about their rights and to reassure them that these rights will be safeguarded.”

The Commission says it has identified four key goals on which the future Charter should be based:
● Better protection of vulnerable citizens
● Increased information to obtain transparency of offers
● Reduced paper work when customers change supplier
● Protecting consumers against unfair selling practices.

Along with the universal right to receive energy and entitlement to choose a supplier, consumer entitlements under the draft Charter are expected to include contracts with minimum elements that must be included by suppliers and information on energy supply, contract conditions, prices and tariffs, energy efficiency measures, and the origin and generation method used for electricity. Moreover prices should be reasonable, easily and clearly comparable and transparent.

Social measures to provide vulnerable citizens with minimum levels of energy services (power, warmth and light) in order to avoid energy poverty, are also expected to be included, as are dispute settlement procedures that are simple and inexpensive.

In the next steps stakeholders, including consumer representatives, energy regulators, EU member states and the gas and electricity industry, will be consulted on the proposed elements for a Charter. The Commission will then draft the final document based on their input, which interested parties will sign during a formal ceremony scheduled for the beginning of December 2007.

“EU consumers expect us to shape a common European response to energy and climate change challenges … and as well they expect the EU to work to protect consumers’ rights as energy markets are opened up to greater consumer choice,” said EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs. “This is where the proposed Energy Consumers’ Charter comes in.”