Electricity: faced with soaring prices, small beleaguered suppliers are under surveillance

Electricity: faced with soaring prices, small beleaguered suppliers are under surveillance

the essential
There are 43 energy suppliers in France, including around thirty specialized in electricity. But only EDF is constrained by the energy shield which made it possible to limit the price increase to 4% in February 2022 even though the regulated tariff should have increased by 40%. The result is panic on board among small suppliers who have no choice but to pass on the surge in prices to the European market… and therefore to lose customers.

Looking at the email sent by Iberdrola on July 28, Pierre still cannot believe it. “The Spaniards came to get me 3 years ago to change my electricity supplier. At that time, it seemed interesting to me. And suddenly, they tell me that they are forced to apply a sharp increase in the price of my offer from September 27th. If I had stayed, I would go from €2,000 to €10,000 per year; it’s absurd ! »

Luckily, this 50-year-old from Toulouse regularly checks his e-mails, which enabled him to keep the competition going (1) and to find another operator at a price substantially identical to what he had been paying until then. But for an attentive Pierre, how many customers miss the one-month period which leads them to stay with the same operator, sometimes at a prohibitive price!

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Since wholesale prices have gone from 100 euros or less to more than 1,000 euros per MWh, electricity suppliers who often had cheaper offers than EDF have been hard pressed, forced to align themselves with of the European market. And it hurts customers who come to the end of their fixed-price contract.

The national energy ombudsman is well placed to know this. The requests for intervention for a litigation accumulate on his desk. “It’s simple, we were seized for 12,250 disputes, including 8% related to tariff problems, in 2016. Against 30,626 in 2021. And we are already at 22,000 disputes this year, at the end of August, of which 15% for price issues,” says Caroline Keller, head of the information and communication department of the national energy ombudsman.

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Under these conditions, the customers who have remained loyal to EDF are very happy. The only electricity supplier subject to the regulated tariff, the incumbent operator was imposed an increase capped at 4% in February 2022 whereas, without the tariff shield, the increase would have been 40%. An evolution difficult to follow for its competitors often forced to align themselves with the prices of the European market. Those who were wise enough to anticipate orders still manage to hold their prices. But they would only be a dozen left to maintain offers… not all of them reasonable in view of the current circumstances.

Iberdrola and OHM energy under surveillance

The other option, to cancel, like Iberdrola which invited 2% of its customers to look elsewhere in August, for lack of being able to offer competitive prices.

A new warning signal after the bankruptcies of Hydroption and Bulb a few months ago.
Don’t panic, EDF has become the temporary emergency supplier for all dormant customers. No risk of breakage therefore. But the bill is salty for EDF which, at the beginning of August, requested 8.34 billion euros from the State to compensate for government decisions.

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Objective, to protect consumers who no longer have fixed price offers to turn to, regardless of the suppliers. Also, the national energy mediator advises two options today, either to turn to the regulated tariff, therefore to EDF, which sees many former customers returning to it. Either take out a contract indexed to the regulated tariffs… with price increases that can still go up to 100% in this context.
We understand better that, on the consumer side, there is electricity in the air.

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