ECONOMY

Household consumers will soon be able to choose their power supplier

Domestic consumers will soon be able to choose who supplies them with electricity, as the Regulatory Authority for Energy (RAE) yesterday announced the framework for the full liberalization of the electricity supply market, following the European Union’s opening up of the electricity and gas market last Sunday. While major corporate consumers (the so-called «choosing customers») have already been able to choose their supplier, until now domestic consumers had no other option but the Public Power Corporation (PPC). The new framework means consumers will be able to submit an application to PPC, which is also the network operator, in order to choose an alternative supplier. Applications will be activated after this summer. «It is obvious that the purpose of the market liberalization is for new investment both in power production and in transmission and distribution networks in the most effective way possible, so that the final consumer enjoys the greatest benefit,» said Michalis Karamanis, RAE’s president, forecasting significant developments in the electricity sector. The new rules on the opening up of the market clarify details about the charging of consumers, the access by consumers and alternative suppliers to data concerning consumption, while providing for the installation of meters by private suppliers so that each consumer’s charges can be precisely calculated for their specific consumption. RAE believes that the inclusion of third-party charges (e.g. local rates, TV license, etc) in electricity bills should remain a prerogative of PPC, while alternative suppliers will be able to issue their own bills. However, RAE proposes that in order to accelerate the liberalization process, suppliers could agree with PPC for the latter to issue their bills until June 30, 2008 for a certain consideration to be agreed. «The incentive for the modernization of networks will be the actual or potential entry of third suppliers to the market,» said Karamanis. He expects that liberalization will enhance the reliability and flexibility of production capacity and persuade PPC to replace existing lignite plants with new, higher-performance installations. He echoed a call by European Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs, who on Sunday urged consumers to make the most of the power market liberalization: «I encourage European consumers to take advantage of the freedom to choose their energy suppliers. A functioning EU energy market can only be obtained if consumers participate in the market actively,» he said. (Kathimerini, Reuters)