Energy Union: consumers to have more choice and greater energy security

European Parliament’s Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) voted on Wednesday February 21 to modernise the EU’s electricity market, striving to give consumers more choice and greater energy security. The ITRE amended four legislative proposals on the EU electricity market. They are part of the so-called Clean Energy package and a step closer to an Energy Union

According to the ITRE, more competition in the electricity market, better information to consumers and small energy producers and plans to tackle shortages during crises are addressed in this energy package. The measures would provide comparison tools on energy providers, transparent bills and contracts, as well as help consumers who produce their own electricity and enhance regional cooperation during electricity crises due to natural disasters or attacks.

MEPs also want member states to consider additional payments to capacity providers only as a last resort and under certain conditions.

Giving more power to consumers

• A comparison tool should be available in each EU country, displaying and ranking rates and tariffs from all suppliers, with an impartial algorithm and independent from suppliers;
• Consumers should be able to withdraw from a contract without facing penalties, and a summary of key conditions should be included on the first page;
• By January 2022, switching supplier should take no longer than 24 hours;
• Bills should display the actual amount of energy consumed, the payment due date, contact details of the company, as well as rules on switching provider and dispute settlement.

Active energy consumers

MEPs do not want consumers who generate, consume and sell energy to be discriminated against (also called “prosumers” – active energy consumers, because they both consume and produce electricity).

MEPs agreed in particular on clear conditions for creating and managing local energy communities, i.e. groups of people producing and consuming energy locally. These local networks should contribute to the costs of the electricity system they connect to and not distort competition, MEPs added.

Measures to tackle energy crisis

In the event of an electricity supply shortage, MEPs agreed on national and regional measures to be implemented before and during crises to ensure that supply is not stopped due to e.g. adverse weather conditions or malicious attacks, such as malware or hacking.

Regional coordination centres should help to draft crisis planning scenarios, while the European Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER) should be able to ensure that they comply with their obligations.

Source: European Parliament