Consumers should be given more power in the energy market, say MEPs in a resolution on a "new energy deal for energy consumers", voted on Thursday. They recommend collective buying, household power generation, better price comparison tools for all and making it easier to switch energy providers and tariffs. In a non-binding text, intended as an input to Energy Union legislation to be tabled by the EU Commission, MEPs also call for EU funds for energy efficiency to focus on energy poverty.
"Currently 50 million EU citizens are living in energy poverty. Many citizens are being kept on outdated energy contracts, also known as 'sleeping' contracts, which often require large termination fees when switching to a cheaper supplier. I want energy companies to provide consumers with information on the cheapest tariffs and scrap costly fees for changing suppliers. In 2016, throughout Europe, nobody should have to choose between heating, cooling or eating”, said rapporteur Theresa Griffin (S&D, UK). To encourage consumers to play an active role on the energy market, MEPs suggest:
Clear pricing, comparable tariffs
MEPs also propose a series of ways to make energy prices more transparent:
Tackle energy poverty
Energy poverty - cases in which people cannot heat or use electricity in their homes at affordable prices - should be tackled at its roots, say MEPs, who call for EU funds for energy efficiency and support for self-generation to focus better on energy-poor, low-income consumers. “Well-targeted social tariffs are vital for low-income, vulnerable citizens, and should therefore be promoted", they add, stipulating "that any such social tariffs should be fully transparent."
Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič announced in the debate on Wednesday evening that the Commission would present legislative proposals in September on energy efficiency and market design, followed by a legislative proposal on renewable energy, a report on energy prices, and proposals in 2018 for an energy poverty observatory.
"Self-consumption" when the cost of self-generated renewable electricity (obtained mainly from solar photovoltaic cells) is no greater than that of electricity obtained from the public grid.
"Prosumers": people who both produce and consume energy from renewable sources.
"Self-generation": consumers using the grid to store electricity that they produced in order to consume it later, without needing to reflect the market value of electricity, which may vary substantially between the times of production and consumption.
"Dynamic pricing": energy prices vary between peak and off-peak periods in line with supply and demand
"Smart meters": to adjust demand, consumers need accurate and frequent information about the level and costs of their energy consumption.