Mercato libero dell'energia

Protected market, tacit extension of 6 months? Here's how things really are

The issue relating to the transition from the free market to the protected market is keeping around 9 million families anxious, who are looking carefully at the choices of the Meloni government before changing supplier and adapting to the stages foreseen by the liberalization of the market desired by the 'European Union.
In recent weeks, in fact, there has been much talk about an extension of the current deadlines – January 10th for gas and April for electricity – on which the Minister of the Environment and Energy Security, Gilberto Pichetto Fratin, up to the last minute, attempted to negotiate with the European Union to obtain a derogation from the plan approved by Italy (and among other things conditional on the payment of the third tranche of the Pnrr).
An extension which, as we have already had the opportunity to explain, there will not be, at least not expressly: as will be indicated in the Energy Decree which should arrive in the Council of Ministers this week, in fact, it is very likely that, albeit tacitly, families will be given more time of permanence in the protected market.
Let's see why.
What happens to those who do not switch to the free market by the deadline As anticipated, in the Energy Decree arriving this week – with which the steps for farewell to the protected market will be defined (except for vulnerable families) – the deadline of 10 January 2023 for the supply of gas, while as regards electricity we will have to wait until April 2024.
However, to understand the reason why there could be a tacit extension of up to 6 months we must look at what happens to those who upon expiry of the deadline have not made the transition to the free market: no interruption of supply, they will simply be supplied under the conditions set by the service with gradual protections.
As explained by Arera, this is the service set up to accompany the transition to the free energy market after the removal of price protection: it therefore includes – and it should be underlined without any interruption in the supply of energy – all domestic customers non-vulnerable who do not have a seller on the open market.
However, one should not think that the transition from the protected regime to the aforementioned service will be immediate: first of all, in fact, it will be necessary to identify – through a specific auction procedure – the suppliers active in the relevant areas.
Gradual protection service auctions, 6 months Although the liberalization will start in January, Arera will be given more time to regulate the auctions with which the suppliers who in each area will be responsible for providing energy to customers who have passed through the protection service gradual.
In detail, there will be up to 6 months for the auctions with which the suppliers responsible for managing each territorial area will be identified.
We remind you, in fact, that for each area there can be a maximum of one supplier, although each of these can serve multiple areas at the same time.
In fact, this is a sort of tacit extension since until the auctions are completed we will continue to be supplied under the conditions of the protected market as the details for the transition to the service in question have not been defined.
Anyone who does not change provider, therefore, risks being covered at least until June 2024, or in any case until the procedures for identifying the aforementioned suppliers are completed.
What does the gradual protection service provide? As we have mentioned several times, the gradual protection service is not particularly convenient, if only because the assignment of the supplier – and the related tariff – occurs automatically without any possibility of choice for the customer.
The risk is therefore of finding yourself paying more than what is offered by other suppliers operating on the free market.
It must be said that with the transition to the service, some protections remain for the customer: the contractual conditions, in fact, correspond to those of the Placet offers on the free market.
This means, for example: bimonthly billing; no guarantee required from the customer in the case of payment by direct debit, postal order or credit card.
In other cases, however, on the first bill you pay a deposit of 11.50 euros for each kW of contractually committed power (usually 3 kW).
As regards the economic conditions, however, the price is blocked for at least 36 months.

Author: A.W.M.

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