Household consumers who use natural gas for heating could pay lower bills with amounts between 60 and 150 lei/ month in winter if they change the contract or supplier, estimates the Competition Council after completing the first stage of the analysis conducted in the context of liberalization of supply of natural gas to household customers. The Authority also considers that a standard supply contract should be issued.
The evaluations of the competition authority indicate that some household consumers could benefit from even more important discounts, of over 200 lei/ winter month. These are households with higher gas consumption, for example homes located in colder areas of the country.
Therefore, the Competition Council recommends that people who use natural gas should consider changing the contract or the supplier, so that they can choose the most advantageous option, before the arrival of the cold season. In this context, the competition authority also draws attention to the importance of carefully analyzing the contractual clauses included in the supply tenders.
The Competition Council’s analysis showed that, so far, the process of liberalizing the supply of natural gas to the household has not generated significant interest among household customers: in the first month after the start of liberalization, a large part of household customers were passive and most of those who switched to competitive supply did so without changing the current natural gas supplier.
At the end of June 2020 (before the liberalization process began), household customers who were supplied with competitive natural gas accounted for 12.1% of total household consumers, reaching about 19% in July 2020. However, only 2% of domestic customers who switched to competitive supply in July did so at the same time as changing the supplier from which they purchased natural gas on a regulated basis.
The Authority analyzed some of the standard offers for the supply of natural gas in a competitive segment.
In the analysis, the Competition Council found that, although most suppliers complied with the specific regulations of ANRE (which provide a minimum level of information to be communicated to customers in the pre-contractual or, as the case may be, contractual stage), some offers and contracts also include clauses, in certain situations, that may create barriers to domestic customers knowingly choosing the most appropriate supply conditions or which may temporarily block household customers from switching their natural gas supplier.
“In order to support household consumers, the competition authority considers it appropriate to introduce a standard supply contract, which provides for unique terms and conditions, presented in a clear, transparent and complete manner, the only parameter that may differ from one supplier to another being the final price of natural gas. Thus, all operators would ensure a supply of natural gas based on the same type of contract, without, however, limiting the commercial freedom of suppliers to offer domestic customers and other contracts in a competitive manner. The purpose of this standard contract is to ensure a set of basic (minimum) conditions in the final supplier / customer relationship of natural gas.”
At the end of May 2020, one month before the start of liberalization, ANRE’s comparator of natural gas offers included standard offers for 46 suppliers, companies that already had in their portfolio domestic customers to whom they supplied natural gas in a competitive regime, as well as suppliers trying to attract such consumers. Currently, 62 suppliers have offers published in the ANRE comparator, which shows the increased interest of natural gas suppliers for domestic customers.