Bills, towards the end of “greater protection”
December 31, 2023 for gas and January 10, 2024 for electricity. Except for a postponement of the final photo (hypothesis of the Minister of the Environment, Gilberto Pichetto Fratin, who had foreseen a subsequently postponed decree, expected by consumer associations, but not appreciated in Brussels), there are only a few weeks left to close an era energy for families, that of the so-called “greater protection” in which the invoice prices are established by an Authority, today the Arera. We are also “warned” by the letters that energy companies are sending in recent days. The “non-vulnerable” customers of the greatest protection, about three million for gas and about five million for electricity (to know if you belong to the protection you have to look at the bill at the top left), are destined to move to the free market , but with different methods and times. Who are the vulnerable for whom nothing changes and who are the non-vulnerable who will instead have a new electricity and gas contract? When will the new regime come into force? What are the different selection options? Can’t you choose? What happens if you don’t choose? And what should be done? Here are the answers.
– Free or protected market? The chaos of bills: this is what really suits families
The end of the protection of light.
At the end of the regime of greater electricity protection, the protected consumer who has not chosen to switch to the free market will automatically enter the so-called “Gradual protection service” (Stg). In this regime, which will last three years, the rates will be set by Arera and will be linked to the Pun, the single national price of energy negotiated in the wholesale market (therefore, a variable price that will be averaged in the final balance). . There will be a single price throughout the country and contractual conditions similar to those of the “Placet” offers will be applied, that is, “Free Price With Equal Protection Conditions” established by the Authority and mandatory (for example, the methods of billing, installment payments and interest and penalties payable in case of reminders or late payments). The concrete transition to the Stg will occur on April 1, 2024: from January 1 to March 31, 2024, Arera’s quarterly rate will be in force. To establish who will be the supplier that will replace the person who provided the protection, competitive auctions will be held, scheduled for December. Competition is based on the marketing price (in practice, whoever asks for less supplies the energy).
«If it happens as in the tenders for the 1.6 million micro-enterprises that took place in December 2022 – explains Gionata Picchio, deputy director of Staffetta Quotidiana – the companies will hold tenders downwards and will therefore remain in the Service with Graduating protections (and therefore not choosing) could save you money compared to the current rate. “In fact, the alternative for end customers will be between a non-competitive result of the auctions, in which little will change compared to the current protection regime, and a very competitive result, in which their situation will improve.”
Domestic customers who are considered vulnerable to electricity and therefore remain protected:
• are over 75 years old and are in economically unfavorable conditions (for example, recipients of bonuses),
• have serious health conditions that require the use of medical-therapeutic equipment powered by electricity (or when there are people with such conditions)
• are subjects with disabilities in accordance with article 3 of law 104/92
• have a user in an emergency housing facility after calamitous events,
• have a user on a smaller, non-interconnected island.
But how do the tenders that will decide who will be our supplier in the gradual protection service work?
Tenders for clients of the protected regime
To establish who will be the supplier that will replace the one who provided the protection, competitive auctions will be held, scheduled (for now) for December 11. Competition is based on the marketing price (who asks less to supply the energy). The clients leaving protection have been divided into 26 zones with 220 thousand consumers each. The maximum amount that can be awarded to the same operator is approximately 30 percent of the areas. Consequently, the market will become less concentrated and companies that have a large share in the protected market (the first is Enel, which through the National Electric Service has around 85%) will dilute their percentage in the new service with gradual protections. .
The end of gas protection
Gas protection will end on January 1, 2024 for the non-vulnerable. If you do not choose a free market contract, you will immediately (starting January 1, 2024) enter into the Placet offer with the protection provider, who usually makes a free market offer in the letter they send. In the Placet offer, however, the price of the energy component is decided by the seller and, therefore, you run the risk of not having bargaining power, which you can exercise when you contract with several supplier companies and you can choose the one that offers the lowest price. .
However, at any time it is possible to choose a contract on the free market. To choose the most convenient contract for your consumption, the Arera Offers Portal allows you to compare electricity and gas offers simply and quickly (
National clients who: are considered vulnerable clients and therefore remain in the protection regime:
• are over 75 years old,
• are in economically disadvantaged conditions (e.g. recipients of bonuses),
• are subjects with disabilities in accordance with article 3 of law 104/92,
• have a user in an emergency housing facility after calamitous events (for example, an earthquake).
Consumer associations: expand protection
Many parties (the consumer association, Minister Gilberto Pichetto Fratin himself and various political forces) are calling for a new postponement, given that energy prices in wholesale markets are high and unstable. “The end of the protected regime – comments Marco Vignola, Energy Director of the National Consumer Union – could lead to an increase in prices, given that the role that Arera and Acquirente Único have played until now in containing price increases is eliminated. , which are in fact much lower than on the free market, as shown by ISTAT data. Nowadays prices are so unstable that it is difficult to choose between fixed and variable prices. The fixed price is very expensive today, “It’s worth it if prices go up more, but what if they go down later? No one can predict what will happen in a few months.”