The great congestion of the TUR of the gas prevents the massive exodus to the regulated market
Endless waits by phone, unanswered emails, queues at the offices and even appointments several weeks away. The energy panic due to the high price of gas that has been proclaimed for months as a consequence of the new European energy paradigm has made many consumers have chosen to move to the rates of last resort (TUR) for gas and electricity (PVPC). Despite the fact that this option has been active for years, it has not been until after the summer when thousands of Spaniards have proposed to switch to the rate system subsidized by the Government that, at least this winter, will guarantee lower prices than those of the liberalized market.
This wave of adherence to regulated tariffs has Regulated marketers caught by surprise, all of them dependent on large energy groups such as Naturgy, Iberdrola, Endesa and TotalEnergies. Although they had already been observing a certain transfer of customers, they claim to have been “collapsed” due to not having the capacity in their customer service services to deal with such a number of requests. He has his sights set on them the Government, which suspects that these requests are slowing down to keep their customers on the free market, where prices will inevitably be higher.
At the end of October it was known that the National Commission for Markets and Competition (CNMC) had opened an investigation into large energy companies after receiving complaints from consumers when transferring their rates to the regulated market. This offers “a safer and less volatile rate,” according to the Secretary of State for Energy, Sara Aagesen. The Government has implemented measures to regulate the impact that prices may have on the pockets of the most vulnerable, limiting price increases in the regulated market and creating a new TUR for the boilers of neighboring communities.
Less than 1% of the free market has gone over to the regulated
Spanish energy companies have about eight million customers registered in the supply of natural gas. Although slowly, more and more citizens are choosing to switch to regulated market rates, given that the prices offered – determined by the State – are much more attractive than those of the free market. This situation, which should be reflected in the customer data of each market, it is observed very timidly in the statistics due to the great administrative bottleneck that energy companies accumulate when processing the changes requested by their clients: the regulated market has barely grown by 0.8% in the last eight months in favor of the freewhich welcomes the bulk of consumers.
According to the latest data available from the CNMC, corresponding to the month of September, almost 63,000 customers have joined the regulated market so far this year. The vast majority of them almost 40,000 have done so during the months of August (11,089) and September (28,406). This reason explains why the free market has lost 50,243 customers, departures that have intensified since May. In total, 6.4 million customers remain in the liberalized market compared to 1.6 million accumulated by the regulated one, which allows access to this rate of last resort on gas prices.
The queues for the regulated rate… it took me two weeks to change my free rate to TUR… impossible by phone, online “no one knows how long it will take”. Various stores @Naturgy all with queues in the street… pic.twitter.com/VQi0TBZplP
— soy_jacs (@soy_jacs) October 10, 2022
The energy companies defend themselves
naturgy is the marketer that manages the vast majority of those 1.6 million customers in the regulated market. Specifically, it has almost 75% of this market, and consequently, it has been the most affected by this avalanche of requests. The Catalan energy company assures that “it is using all means” to meet the increase in requests, which amount to an average of 22,000 processed each week up to a total of 85,000 since September.
From the company they remember that this figure, of something more than two months, exceeds that managed in all of 2021which is why they have increased the number of telephone agents, launched an exclusive attention service for neighboring communities and set up a digital channel to request the change to their regulated retailer, Gas&Power.
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