Energy Regulatory Commission wants to control offers from gas and electricity suppliers

Energy Regulatory Commission wants to control offers from gas and electricity suppliers
Energy Regulatory Commission wants to control offers from gas and electricity suppliers

From next year, gas and electricity suppliers will have to transmit to the CRE each month data on the prices of current contracts and those of new offers proposed.

The Energy Regulatory Commission (CRE) intends to learn lessons from the recent energy crisis. Two years ago, some electricity and gas suppliers took advantage of the surge in energy prices on the markets to sometimes pass it on excessively in their offers and contracts with their customers. To prevent this situation from happening again, the body announced at the beginning of April the launch of three projects: the implementation of prudential control, the improvement of information provided to consumers and monitoring of the consistency of suppliers’ offers.

And it recently communicated on this third part in order to say more about the methods of monitoring the consistency of the offers proposed by electricity and gas suppliers.

“The objective is to ensure that the offers proposed by suppliers are well correlated with the economic conditions they are facing,” indicates the CRE, which specifies that this control will focus on the prices of current contracts and on the prices of new offers proposed by electricity and gas suppliers.

“Name and shame” or even referral to the Competition Authority and the DGCCRF

Concretely, from 1 January 2025, suppliers will have to transmit their data to the commission each month as soon as “a new offer is proposed or the prices of existing offers and current contracts are updated.” Offers intended for residential consumers will first be targeted before a possible extension to small professionals and small local authorities. “For supply offers addressed to professional consumers, the control will remain the same as currently, i.e. ad hoc, taking into account the diversity of situations,” adds the body chaired by Emmanuelle Wargon.

“An offer whose price level is much lower or much higher than the costs borne by the supplier could be considered economically inconsistent,” the CRE underlines in its deliberation of May 30.

The objective of the Energy Regulatory Commission is thus to quickly identify bad practices before they become widespread. These include sudden price increases from one month to the next that the consumer cannot necessarily detect. But also advertisements promising a significant discount on the regulated tariff that is in reality offset by an increase in the subscription price. Or offers that highlight particularly low prices in the summer without specifying that these follow the markets and therefore rise significantly in the winter.

If the Energy Regulatory Commission detects offers that are inconsistent with the economic conditions, it plans several actions that will range from requesting correction from suppliers to referring the matter to the Competition Authority or the DGCCRF (General Directorate for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control) and including informing consumers, i.e. “name and shame”.

Suppliers pinned by the Ombudsman for “bad practices”

A week before the CRE’s deliberation on monitoring the consistency of offers proposed by electricity and natural gas suppliers, the National Energy Mediator had itself singled out certain suppliers for “bad practices”.

He accused Engie, ENI, Ohm Énergie and Wekiwi of having “deliberately” underestimated monthly payments in order to “mislead consumers about the cost of their energy”.

“These bad practices are intended to give the consumer the illusion of competitive prices”, but can result in “regularisation invoices of several hundreds, even thousands of euros”, the Mediator deplored in his annual report.

The latter also notes a sharp increase in disputes related to price changes in 2023. Indeed, while the number of referrals remained stable compared to 2022 (13,999 in 2023 compared to 13,751 in 2022), the number of complaints related to price changes jumped by 74%. In addition to underestimating prices, Wekiwi also receives a “red card” for the second consecutive year “for its recurring bad practices at all times during the life of the contracts”. The Mediator accuses it in particular of “abusive canvassing”, “misleading offers” and “particularly complex to understand”.

In this context, the national energy mediator Olivier Challan Belval called in a press release “on Parliament to legislate before the end of 2024 to strengthen the protection of energy consumers”.

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