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Consumers (15-11-2010)

EU consumers could save €13 billion in electricity bills, study finds

A European Commission study on the EU retail electricity markets published on 15 November 2010 shows that EU consumers could save about €13 billion in total if they switched to the cheapest electricity tariff they could find.

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

Individually, consumers could save about € 100 if they switched to the cheapest offer.

But 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;
  • Complaint handling in retail electricity needs to be improved: only 28% of EU consumers were satisfied with the way their complaint was dealt with;
  • In most EU countries, households consuming less energy pay more per unit than those who consume more electricity.

The study is a follow-up to the findings of the 2009 Consumer Markets Scoreboard which found the retails electricity market to be among the worst performing markets for consumers.

Next steps

The Commission wants 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,
  • Better energy bills and complaint handling : implementing the recommendations which are already in place, including those developed by the Citizen's Energy Forum.

Full study: