Energy watchdog CREG has a draft decision ready that should put an end to the tangle of variable energy contracts in our country. Due to a multitude of formulas and indexing parameters, it has become virtually impossible for consumers to make the best choice for their electricity and gas contract. Some suppliers even deliberately play with the indexing parameters to always come out on top in the price comparison test – the so-called ‘gaming’.
The CREG therefore proposes to introduce a temporary obligation for two years from 1 January to only use monthly indexation for variable price offers. Now some suppliers also offer quarterly indexing, or change the indexing formula in the meantime.
“The monthly indexation will ensure that the suppliers’ pricing takes into account the most recent and, in principle, the most representative price information available,” the CREG believes. In addition, the number of products offered will also be limited, which should make the choice easier for the customer.
A second obligation relates to the valuation of the indexation parameter. With some suppliers, it was determined on the basis of a single daily quote for electricity or natural gas, while the energy watchdog wants it to be based on multiple daily quotes, “in order to reflect a more average price level”.
“We want to stop a number of practices”, the CREG spokesperson summarized on Thursday. According to him, there were many complaints about the variable rate formulas, including from Test-Aankoop. “The intention is that consumers can make a more robust choice for their energy contract. . Due to the practice of gaming, he now sometimes made the wrong choice.”
The CREG has the power to intervene on the basis of Article 23bis of the Electricity Act and Article 15/14bis of the Gas Act, it still reads.
Not yet final
The measures are not yet final: after the draft decision, there will now be a public consultation for several weeks, during which suppliers but, for example, also consumer organizations can submit their comments. The CREG will then take a final decision on the basis of this.
The draft decision mentions that the measure will take effect on January 1, 2023, until December 31, 2025. The CREG would draw up a monitoring report every year, in which the impact on the functioning of the market is examined, for example for the supply of the suppliers, for transparency to the consumer and the impact on the price comparison sites.
Indeed, consumers should feel the falling market prices in their wallets as soon as possible.
State Secretary for Consumer Protection Eva De Bleeker finds the CREG’s proposal interesting. It is important to her that consumers must always be able to base their choice of variable energy contract on correct and the most recent price information. “Consumers should indeed feel the falling market prices in their wallets as soon as possible,” it reads.
However, De Bleeker asks the CREG to investigate the effect of any future price increases and to take this into account. In those cases, the new system must certainly not harm the consumer, emphasizes the Open VLD State Secretary.
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