Variation in 3rd Energy Package customer provisions across Europe


Brussels, Belgium — (METERING.COM) — December 3, 2012 – As of January 1, 2012 despite the significant effort to meet the customer and retail market provisions from the 3rd Energy Package, there was wide variation across Europe in their implementation, according to a recent report from the Council of European Energy Regulators (CEER).

In particular the supplier-of-last-resort mechanism has been most widely transposed. Individual countries vary in the definitions and preconditions they apply to the eligibility for consumers to benefit from such a mechanism. In addition, the number of appointed suppliers of last resort varies greatly given that all suppliers may be potential suppliers of last resort in some countries, whereas in others their appointment is restricted to a defined geographical area.

The report is intended as a snapshot of the situation in CEER member countries, nine months after the 3rdPackage was due to be transposed into national law by the EU member states.

With respect to the provisions regarding supplier switching, there is a gap between the legal and practical implementation of the 3rdPackage. While the legal provisions are widely implemented across the member countries, only a minority of countries meet the three week maximum period for switching suppliers and the six week period for the receipt of the final disclosure account in practice. Different reasons are cited for this problem, but only a small number of countries have indicated they intend to put measures in place to reduce the delays experienced.

The analysis of vulnerable customer protection showed that countries have different understandings of what a concept of vulnerable customers entails. Despite this fact, most countries tend to ultimately protect their vulnerable customers through a combination of energy specific and social security measures. The fact that a country does not have an explicit definition of a concept for vulnerable customers in its legal framework does not necessarily mean that vulnerable customers in that country are less well protected than vulnerable customers in countries that establish a defined concept.

When it comes to the customer information requirements customers are widely informed on the contribution of each energy source to the overall energy mix. Most countries have also implemented single points of contact both in the electricity and the gas sector. However, only half of the countries contributed to the establishment of the required energy consumer checklist and only a few countries have started the coordination process with suppliers and distribution system operators in this respect.

A number of countries are also still to implement the required three month settlement period for out-of-court settlements in the case of disputes, even though nearly all of the countries have had alternative dispute resolution mechanisms in place for a fairly long time.