Gas and electricity towards the mandatory transition to the free market?


By John

Everything will depend on the next Energy decree which “we are defining in the final details”, as clarified by the Minister of the Environment and Energy Security, Gilberto Pichetto Fratin, confident that it will be approved by the Council of Ministers by the end of the month. The delay accumulated by the decree in recent weeks would be due to the attempt to obtain from Brussels an extension of the deadlines for the mandatory transition from the protected energy market to the free market. But the negotiations are complicated, given that that step is part of the commitments made with the EU for the Pnrr. In the absence of relevant news, therefore, the current dates remain confirmed: 10 January 2024 for gas and 1 April for electricity. This means that domestic consumers still included in the greater protection regime – where the prices are set by the Regulatory Authority for Energy, Networks and the Environment (Arera) – will have to find a supplier on the free market, where prices are determined by competing companies. The operation concerns approximately 9 million domestic consumers for electricity and 6 million for gas.

Not all, in reality, because around 4.5 million “vulnerable” users will still have the right to remain in the protected regime. The group includes those over 75, disabled people, economically disadvantaged people or people living in emergency housing due to natural disasters, patients suffering from serious illnesses that require the use of medical devices with high energy consumption, customers which have users on a smaller, non-interconnected island. For all others, it will be necessary to search for the new supplier, comparing the offers available on the official Arera portal and choosing the most advantageous contract for your consumption. It being understood that those who do not make it in time will not run the risk of running out of energy. For latecomers, in fact, there will be no fines or sanctions and the transition will be gradual: you will still be able to remain with the current supplier, or another chosen by Arera, but with prices no longer fully protected. In short, the risk is finding yourself paying higher bills than before.

Which is no small problem, in a period in which price volatility due to market fluctuations and conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East is particularly pronounced and unpredictable. To the point that Even the bills in the protected market are experiencing significant increases in recent months. For this reason, consumer associations have long been asking the government to extend the transition to the free market. The goal would be to gain at least six months to get through the winter season. But apparently the negotiations with Brussels are going uphill. The final verdict will be in the Energy decree