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Health & Consumer Voice - March - 2011 Edition

EU consumers could save about €13 billion in total in electricity bills

A European Commission study on the EU retail electricity markets shows that EU consumers could save about €13 billion in total in electricity bills if they switched to the cheapest electricity tariff they could find. Individually, consumers could save about €100 if they switched to the cheapest offer.

Mystery shoppers conducting the study have indeed been able to find a less expensive tariff in more than six cases out of ten (62%).

This study is a follow-up to the findings of the 2009 Consumer Markets Scoreboard , which found the retails electricity market to be amongst the worst performing markets for consumers. The study also shows that consumers are not making full use of the savings opportunities that market liberalisation has created, allowing them a choice of electricity suppliers:

  • Very few consumers switch electricity suppliers : switching rates are above 10% in only seven EU countries;
  • Less than a third of EU consumers (32%) have compared offers from different suppliers;
  • 41% of consumers do not know if they can find a cheaper tariff for themselves;
  • Less than half of EU consumers (47%) know how much electricity they consume.

As next step, the Commission envisages a series of actions to improve the situation, including the following:

  • National regulators will develop guidelines for providing information to consumers more effectively, for making it easier to compare prices and to switch suppliers;
  • Jointly with key stakeholders, the Commission will identify best practices in alternative dispute resolution in the energy sector;
  • The Commission will promote better energy bills and complaint handling via the implementation of the recommendations already in place, including those developed by the Citizen's Energy Forum.

The full text of the study is available at: