Interview Electricity and gas bills, everything you need to know for the transition to a free market ARTE spokesman Diego Pellegrino explains to the opportunities of the change that will cover millions of Italian families in 2024. “Terrorism happened for no reason: The free market is an opportunity, not a risk”

The greater protection regime for electricity and gas bills known as the protected market is now coming to an end. With the new year, all domestic customers will have to switch to the free market, except for some protected categories: about four million “vulnerable” families, who will not be forced to switch regimes, at least for now.

It is a step taken in 2021, required by European legislation and included in Pnrr, which tracks small businesses. For those who do not make it by the set dates (January 10 for gas, April 1 for electricity), the Energy, Networks and Environmental Regulatory Authority (Arera) has provided a “Tiered Protection Service” to facilitate “latecomers”.

Diego Pellegrino, spokesman for ARTE, the association that brings together a large part of Italian energy sellers and traders, explains to how to navigate the many offers; How to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the transition to a free market and, above all, how to avoid the scams that always lurk, as in any moment of great change. Pellegrino describes himself as a “champion of the free energy market” on his Linkedin profile, and it is easy to understand his stance on the debates that have fueled the political debate in recent weeks.

What is Tiered Protection Service?

It is a service established by Arera to accompany the transition to a free electricity market after the removal of price protection (protected market). All domestic customers who do not switch to a free market supplier will not experience service interruption, but will be served by vendors selected through certain competitive procedures in their regions for 36 months.

In short, do you really not see the risk of increasing bills?

“Fortunately no. I think we need to give a great message of peace: No one will lack energy, there will be no problems and traumas in the change, but most importantly no one will double their proverbial bill. The free market already exists and has been working for many years; so much so that 20 million “The Italian family has been using it for some time, whereas just under 10 families remain in the so-called protected market, which I call a managed tariff because it says: Protecting is perhaps the real mistake we all make because it shows that the prices are through the roof.”

What makes you so sure that prices will not increase?

“We see before our eyes the transition experience of micro-enterprises in 2021, whose data show that savings can also be made. In addition, the transition from the free protection market is, in our opinion, not only a question of Price, but above all, services.”

In what sense?

“The proposals include a number of options that will make it easier for the consumer according to the type of consumer. I will give you a very simple example: Some of them involve replacing the boiler or air conditioning with models with lower energy impact or the installation of photovoltaics. These are among the many possibilities that the protected market clearly does not offer, due to competition between companies “These are opportunities that allow you to pay less for both energy and additional consumption by making a choice.”

“No one will be deprived of energy, there will be no problems and trauma in the change, but above all no one will double their proverbial bill,” Diego Pellegrino explains to Today.

On what basis will the average user decide on their ideal operator?

“It’s a bit like someone going to the market and deciding to buy fruit from a stall. It’s true that the price is important first of all, but not only. We need to explain to citizens that the invoice includes the same products, everything like transportation, dispatch, system fees, excise duties and, of course, VAT The two items to consider to choose the best offer are the monthly fixed rate, called CCV, and the cost of raw materials.The raw material can be a fixed price or an indexed price once you enter the free market: the first is a fixed figure and its maturity can vary between 12 and 24 months, the other “It follows the stock market price and provides an additional fee called Spread. So, in tariff and fixed price you only need to compare the figure, in variable price you need to check the difference between Spreads.”

Everything is clear, but this can be done by a person who knows how to navigate the Internet and search for all these numbers. What will others do?

“I can give two practical advice. The first is to check if there is an outlet of a company offering the service close to your home: their number is starting to increase. This can be a good thing.” The starting point is to understand the various types of offers. The second is to ask someone for help, perhaps your family, because objectively you can find the best rates on the market online.”

There are also “energy consultants”. Would you recommend contacting them?

“These are very useful figures for businesses, because the free market offers huge savings opportunities due to the diversity in consumption according to different types of activity. This is a service that some companies also offer free of charge to citizens who apply to them, clearly the range of offers in this case concerns only individual suppliers. And each In this case, again to ensure peace of mind, something else should be said: we are talking about changes in the bill in the range of 4 or 5 euros per month.

Let’s get to the risks. Every day we encounter calls from call centers using mobile numbers and bombarding us with offers. How do you protect yourself from the usual scams at such a sensitive moment?

“This is one of the most important messages we need to give. In Italy, there are call centers that work well, respect the rules, are serious and honest, people can definitely talk to them; and there are also fraudsters, we cannot even identify the call center, they are the people who steal our data, they know our mobile number, they know our Iban. They know, they know our meter number and they have all the data necessary to make a contract, they often outdo themselves. Being our same supplier, they tell a lot of lies. Unfortunately, they manage to be very empathetic towards us because their goal is to get that famous ‘yes’. To do a very simple check. To hang up the phone and call this number again: if it is not available or the line drops immediately after the busy tone, it is definitely a fraud attempt. Another slightly more troublesome check is to check whether the calling number is registered with Roc. Records of call center operators: Those on this list are reliable .”

Not everyone will move to the free market in the new year, there will be protected categories that will remain in the protected market.

“Unfortunately, in my opinion. Because those who stay there may face big problems. The protection tariff is not a tariff, as stated, and it is not a protection. It is not a protection because it blindly follows the market and does not make any applications. Considering that it is updated every 3 months, it is not a real time declines and this is not a tariff but rather an estimate of the tariff, as Arera can define the price without any strict rule, but independently of the price. The differences between the price Arera determines in the protection tariff and the actual purchase price are calculated to the stock market value and therefore, thanks to the rule, in the free market It will be ensured that it is equal to the resulting price. The state company that supplies for the protected market, where supply and demand are balanced, sells at the tariff price, but buys at the exchange price, and therefore must compensate for any negative or positive delta. In other words, as in recent months, the protection tariff will be more “When it is low, it will equalize in the next period and this will be much more expensive than the free market,” he said.

Are you saying that those who remain in the protected market in January will pay much more?

“True, there is this risk. It must also be said that it is wrong to think that all the vulnerable are in the so-called protected market: in reality, the more sensitive, careful and punctual customers of the free market. Those who will choose the most suitable tariffs for themselves will be those who receive social bonuses. For now “Those remaining in the so-called protected category will be those over 75 years of age, those living in disaster-affected areas, those receiving social assistance. We also advise those who have to provide social bonuses and power to electro-medical equipment to choose a more favorable rate in the free market.”

In short, if everything is so comfortable, why do you think the transition to the free market is so scary?

“I’m sorry to say this, but neither the media nor politics focused on anything. A galactic fuss was created over a sensitive issue, citizens were terrorized for no reason, false data was published. For example, a few days ago, I published an article in a major newspaper with data interpreted by the National Consumer Union. The article was seen. A comparison was made between December 2021 prices and September 2023 prices, highlighting the fact that the protection was better compared to that period, guaranteeing savings of 8.8 percent against an increase of 73.7 percent in the free market. Frankly speaking, December 2021 No one has explained that 67 percent of Italian families in Italy have fixed-price contracts and, above all, that prices are more than 50 percent lower in the free market. Even fixed prices have an expiration date and, unfortunately, after renewal they are adjusted according to the market. That is why today the free market is higher than in December 2021. On the contrary, the protection that does not protect citizens from increases then is effectively in line with 2021 prices today. “So this is not a comparison that penalizes the free market, but on the contrary, it shows that the increases came after a year or two of protection of the market.”

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Source: Today IT