Romania is the only country in Europe which gives consumers the opportunity to change energy suppliers with bills unpaid, according to the Association of Energy Utilities Companies (ACUE), which expects the courts to judge promptly the processes initiated by vendors.
“We are the only or the first country in Europe – let’s not say that encouraged, but adopted a recommendation of the European Commission – which supports the consumers to change supplier without the obligation to pay invoices issued left unpaid. The argument that in 42 days follows an adjustment invoice anyway, and the customer will have an extra bill to pay later is already a topic on which we have commented with the energy regulator at the time.
After 42 days, if he has already changed supplier, has no contractual relationship with the previous supplier. We’ll all go to court, probably. This would not be our fear, going to court, if the court would judge cases expeditiously, within a reasonable time”, said Silvia Vlăsceanu, general manager at ACUE.
She added that the process can take several years, during which the supplier has not received invoices.
“I would not want to remind you CFR case. (…) If it were now in this situation, in 21 days CFR coul have changed its supplier and during a year can change 11-12 suppliers. At every 21 days it can change and go to any provider without the obligation to pay the issued invoice. This Competition would have had to intervene and have a point of view”, said Vlăsceanu.
Competition Council seems to support the philosophy underlying the ANRE Order in question.
“I admit that we have not asked (ANRE – e.n), but we agree with them, even after the fact. (…) What other industry has a regime that says” if you do not want to be my customer you must pay my debt to the day otherwise our contract will keep running?”, said the President of the Competition Council, Bogdan Chiriţoiu.
He added that no electricity provider is obliged to take customers from others, much less in cases where consumers have debts.
ACUE General Manager also said that suppliers have no interest in losing customers, but they cannot tolerate those who do not pay their bills or electricity thieves.
“Competition on the supply side is very active and very sharp between providers. On the production is already a fact recognized, maybe the separation of producers by source was not at that time, 20 years ago, the most inspired choice. It is already unnecessary to comment on whether it’s wrong or not, the effects can be seen today. We can talk here of a certain abuse of producers in relation to others, but probably this will be subject to a sector inquiry, how certain producers behave”, said ACUE high representative.