New code of conduct for power firms

Private companies involved in the retailing of electricity are making an overture to private consumers by offering discounts of 20 percent on the rates of the Public Power Corporation (PPC), while the Environment and Energy Ministry works on measures to protect consumers.

The ministry is to set up a ?consumers? code of conduct,? which will be incorporated within the new framework for the liberalization of the power market that Minister Tina Birbili will need to complete by next month, according to her commitments to Greece?s creditors.

The loose institutional framework that is in force today has allowed for the licensing of 66 companies, of which fewer than 10 are actually active. Licensed retailers will need to have a minimum capital of 500,000 euros, up from 60,000 euros today. This is meant to clear the market of companies that are inactive and avert the entry of those not wishing to have anything more than a ghost company for tax purposes.

The code of conduct will allow consumers to switch from one electricity supplier to another without a time limit, provided they terminate their contract. Today there is a time limit ranging from three to 12 months. Contracts between suppliers and consumers will need to clearly state the favorable terms offered as well as the rights and obligations of each party.

The code will further include fines and investigations into complaints regarding misleading information by suppliers, full disclosure before signing a contract on the profile and the capacity of the supplier, updates of any possible rate rises well before their application and offering the option to consumers to pay their bills in installments.

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