After the two major national energy companies – EDP and Galp – announced increases in natural gas prices from October, the government decided to allow consumers in the liberalized natural gas market to return – if they wish – to adhere to the regulated tariff. The measure can be beneficial to many. For example, for a couple with two children and no central heating, and with an annual consumption of 292 cubic meters of gas, being on the regulated market can save between four and 46 euros per month. The question now is how consumers can return to the regulated market for natural gas.
What do you do to return to the organized market?
The government has decided to lift legal restrictions on the regulated gas tariff (which prevents those who have joined the free market from reversing the decision) to prevent families and small traders – who have annual gas consumption of up to 10,000 cubic meters – from being affected by 150% more on your bill.
Thus, any consumer will be able to switch from the liberalized market to the regulated market whenever he wants, without any additional charges. According to the Energy Services Regulatory Authority (ERSE)exist today 12 Trader of last resort for natural gasie with the regulated tariff. In the case of electricity there are 13. However, in the liberalized market, the number of suppliers can be five times greater.
To return to the regulated tariff, with the government ensuring that the price charged is lower than the price charged in the liberalized market, the consumer only has to sign a new contract with the supplier of last resort. The new supplier company will be to handle the transition with the old supplier. The change may take up to three weeks to complete, but there will be no additional consumer charge. There is also no risk of running out of gas access in the home during the resource switching process.
What distinguishes the regulated tariff from the prices used in the liberalized market?
In a regulated market, ERSE sets the prices of energy that are charged to consumers, while in a liberalized market, although there are rules to be followed, each supplier decides how much energy costs consumers. Since at least 2013, consumers have been encouraged to join the liberalized market, on the grounds that increased competition leads to lower prices. Those who left could not return, either in gas or electric – only in 2018 this rule was changed after a proposal from the PCP, but only for the electricity bill.
As energy prices rise in international markets, suppliers are raising their bills to consumers. Thus, the government now allows a return to the regulated market, where prices are lower. This is because the increases in the liberalized market are much higher than the 3.9% increase already announced by ERSE for the regulated tariff.
How do you choose a new supplier?
ERSE recommends using simulation Regulator, for an informed choice. The ERSE simulator combines all commercial offerings available to electricity consumers with contracted capacity of up to 41.4 kilovolt-amperes (kVA), for normal low voltage, and natural gas with annual consumption of up to 10,000 cubic metres, for low pressure (BP).
“Since the prices of commercial offers in the liberalized market are partly dependent on tariffs approved annually by ERSE, as with tariffs for network access, consumers are advised to conduct at least two price simulations per year. The timetable for approval of the ERSE tariff, the end of January for electricity is recommended , and the end of October for natural gas,” the regulator suggests.
When can consumers switch to the regulated tariff?
From October 1, consumers can freely choose which markets they want to be in, according to the announcement by the Minister of Environment and Climate Action, Duarte Cordero.
Currently, 227,000 consumers remain on the regulated natural gas tariff, according to data from ERSE. In other words, there are currently about 97.7% of Portuguese consumers in the liberalized gas market.
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