Rome, Italy — (METERING.COM) — January 5, 2009 – Italy’s antitrust authority, Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato, has imposed fines totaling €1.275 million on nine gas and electricity companies for misleading consumers about their tariffs.

The nine companies are Enel Energia, Eni, AceaElectrabel Elettricità, AEM Energia, ASM Energia e Ambiente, Trenta, Enìa Energia, MPE Energia e Italcogim Energie

In a statement, the authority said the nine companies had launched advertising campaigns through various media that could mislead consumers about the cost of their services through "incomplete, incorrect or false information". In particular the campaigns do not mention the presence of regulated price components, which are subject to change and could amount to more than 40 percent of the total cost paid by the consumer for their electricity or gas.

As the electricity market has been liberalized only since July 2007, the entry of many new entrants into the market who have tried to quickly gain market share has made the consumer more in need of clarification and information, especially regarding the actual costs of service, said the authority.

The individual fines amounted to €260,000 for Eni, €250,000 for Enel Energia, €140,000 for AEM Energia, €135,000 for AceaElectrabel Elettricità, €110,000 for ASM Energia e Ambiente, €100,000 for MPE Energia, €95,000 each for Enìa Energia and Italcogim Energie, and €90,000 for Trenta.

Just before Christmas, Britain’s energy regulator Ofgem fined energy supplier Npower £1.8 million pounds after the supplier failed to take sufficient action to prevent mis-selling of energy contracts to customers. While Npower had procedures in place to follow up complaints, Ofgem judged that company managers had not been proactive enough in applying and improving them, allowing incidents of mis-selling to proceed unchecked.