Electricity suppliers: Why the end of the tariff jungle could be near

It’s a thorny issue that full-time former housing minister Emmanuelle Wargon, newly appointed head of the Energy Regulatory Commission (CRE), is promising to mobilize. Less than two weeks after his appointment, his schedule is already jam-packed with discussions with electricity suppliers who have increased their prices or are planning to do so. And with good reason: some of them are accused of using opportunistic machinations on the backs of their customers and EDF, as we explained in the previous episode.

“In the face of an extraordinary crisis, we are taking extraordinary measures to monitor and communicate with suppliers to protect consumers. If there is any suspicion, we will initiate the necessary investigations,” she assured on Monday.

Therefore, to ensure the smooth functioning of the energy market, the CRE promises to tighten the screw. Because so far, his means to really control the deadweight effects have remained weak and the sanctions very low. ” In fact, it’s as if we discovered this type of problem at the same time that the crisis was worsening », one of the participants slips. ” Everyone must learn from this and take ruthless action against these immoral practices. ‘ adds an industry insider.

ARENH Arbitration Monitoring

Starting with manipulating certain companies to buy more electricity at low prices from EDF through the ARENH mechanism. Since 2011, this mechanism has allowed “alternatives” (i.e. other than EDF) that cannot own a nuclear power plant to offer competitive prices to their customers by selling megawatt-hours (MWh) at cost to the incumbent (with no profit for the latter) rather than to the fluctuating market suppliers. But here it is: Some of EDF’s competitors would try to maximize their right to those precious electrons by playing on the price list offered to their customers depending on the season.

“These rights are calculated particularly in the summer, when consumption is at its lowest. Therefore, several providers try to recruit as many customers as possible during this time and then relieve them in winter. This allows them to sell their ARENH coverage in the markets at exorbitant prices,” the manager of a utility company, who asked not to be identified, told La Tribune.

Has this difficulty well identified carried out by CRE, the control carried out by CRE does not prevent this practice, as the Managing Authority does not monitor ARENH’s energy consumption.

A possible lawsuit

However, the tide could well turn. Because the tone has changed on this topic in the last few days. Now referred to as ” abuse “, the regulation should even lead to legal proceedings, as the CRE explains in a statement published on Monday. ” We will examine the individual case and include the affected suppliers in sanction procedures ‘ says an inside source.

Concretely, after an investigation report has been submitted and the supplier has been given the opportunity to comment, the file could be sent to CoRDiS, which is responsible for punishing violations of the Energy Code. ” He decides whether or not to fine the operator concerned ‘ explains a source close to the file The gallery.

The energy ombudsman, for his part, has already drawn the fraud fight’s attention to Ohm Energie, which will drastically increase its prices from the start of the school year and promise drastic price reductions from the spring.

However he should prove that there is indeed an intention to abuse ARENH and specially to realize the intention of losing customers in the winter and to distinguish it from a simple change in the price list associated with the price explosion on the markets,” explains the Tribune, a source at the CRE.

Speculation or simple management?

However, aside from possible sanctions against the ARENH arbitration, there are no plans to regulate speculation in general. And this even if it were at the expense of the customer. In fact, some providers are also accused of taking advantage of the evolution of the market, getting rid of some of their customers (thanks to uncompetitive offers or high security deposits) in order to sell the electrons on the stock exchange intended initially for their consumption, where they are exchanged at the price of gold will. These MWh, which therefore do not come from ARENH rights but from a pre-purchase on the futures markets before prices exploded, are therefore completely beyond CRE’s control.

“This is freedom of trade. Of course, customers feel they are being treated unfairly. But the practice can be seen as simple management by a business leader who must do whatever it takes to continue his activity,” says a good industry expert.

One thing is certain: if electricity prices continue to rise, most will find it difficult to keep up. Because even the most serious assure it: covering their customers’ consumption for the year 2023 will become ” impossible mission as prices on the futures market remain high.