Competition Authority detects some electricity companies have charged 30% more for energy with the new electricity bill

The supervisory body says that companies have only "punctually" correctly informed their customers

2 min
Electricity meters

BarcelonaThe National Commission of Markets and Competition (CNMC), which is the body that oversees the electricity market, has detected some irregularities in the companies in the sector in adapting to the new electricity bill model, which came into force on 1 June. In some specific cases, according to the Competition Authority, electricity suppliers - which it does not identify - have been found to have overcharged up to 30% in the so-called energy term. This is a part of the bill that reflects the network access toll (which is fixed) and the cost of electricity production in each period (which is variable).

The CNMC has monitored the application of the new electricity tolls with the implementation of the new electricity bill, which from 1 June establishes three types of tariffs depending on the time: valle (valley), llano (flat), and punta (peak).

In addition, the supervisory body has found that in some cases the companies, in addition to the variation in tolls (regulated part), have introduced an increase in the price of energy and, "only occasionally", the retailer has informed its customers in a "transparent and understandable" way, through specific communication beyond those corresponding to the simple transfer of the regulated components, and has thus given the possibility of termination of the contract without penalty, in accordance with current regulations, as reported by the CNMC in a statement.

However, in most cases the body chaired by Cani Fernandez indicates that there has been no transparent communication by the electricity companies to their customers informing them about the price update made, and incorrectly indicating that this update has been made to collect the variation of the regulated components. However, the CNMC points out that the vast majority of suppliers have adequately transferred the variation in the new tolls.

In the case of the detected irregularities, the CNMC has asked the retailers involved to make the necessary adjustments to their consumers' contracts so that they include the correct prices and, in addition, to inform them in a transparent manner. At the date of the report, according to the Competition Authority, many of these suppliers are already making these adjustments. Affected consumers, therefore, would have to receive the equivalent compensation for the prices they should have paid since 1 June.

Actions against electricity companies

The agency says it is monitoring these regularisations and that, if these are not carried out diligently and properly and with the necessary transparency for the consumer, it "could initiate appropriate action" in terms of consumer protection and in terms of transparency adopted in commercial practices. The results of the information requested in the second phase from 18 additional retailers are currently being analysed.

The changes that took place in the bill as of 1 June modified the structure and conditions for billing tolls. All consumers now have a toll with hourly discrimination in the power and energy terms. Specifically, it differentiates the billing terms of the tolls according to the different time periods -peak, valley and flat-. As a result, the supply contracts that distributors had with consumers on 1 June had to be adapted to reflect these changes. In order to carry out the investigation, the CNMC requested information from these companies on the prices billed before and after 1 June to a series of randomly selected customers. This first analysis took into account information from the 25 suppliers with the highest share in terms of number of supplies, which represent 91% of the total market of supply points in the low voltage free market and 84% of the total energy in the low voltage free market.