Fair Gas Prices: ANRE taken by surprise again by market liberalization for non-household consumers


by Dumitru Chisalita, Energy Expert

Once again, ANRE is taken by surprise. It hasn’t done almost anything to inform non-household consumers for them to exercise their rights in the gas market. It now finds an easy method to solve the problem, delaying it the second time in the past 6 months. Nothing new in ANRE’s practice, if we take into account that there are norms in force for 6 years that are delayed every 3 months. Under the Gas Law, the date of January 1st 2015 was established, two and a half years ago, as the date when the regulated market disappears for non-households, establishing the market in which gas can be traded freely. 6 months ago, less than 30 working days until the deadline when non-household consumers had to exit the regulated market, ANRE – taken by surprise that it had to enforce the law – delayed by 6 months the application of this measure by which consumers can negotiate their gas price. Early this month, ANRE is again taken by surprise by the fact that it will liberalize the market of non-household consumers and launches for discussion a project to extend the trading period of the liberalized market, period during which consumers will be forced to accept the price of suppliers that currently supply gas. The reason behind ANRE’s project is the following: given the short time left until the deadline of June 30th 2015 and the large number of non-household customers that haven’t concluded yet new supply contracts, ANRE prepared a draft to amend order no. 107/2014, which extends the deadline until August 31st 2015. Representatives of state institutions have repeatedly stated that market liberalization for non-household consumers was a success and that consumers had concluded new contracts with gas suppliers. In June 2015, ANRE returns and shows that the circulated success is not so great and it’s necessary to extend the transition period to the free market of non-household consumers. According to ANRE data, 58.87% of total non-household gas consumers concluded gas sale-purchase contracts related to gas supply in negotiated regime, after January 1st 2015. What ANRE does not say is that most these consumers haven’t negotiated the price of gas, but they have simply signed a new contract and almost all have been retroactive. Basically, most consumers haven’t benefited from an advantageous price. The measure was only bureaucratic, based on which a false statistic of success of market liberalization for non-household was built, about which ANRE has been bragging for 6 months. Today, it is requested to delay market liberalization for non-household consumers, according to ANRE’s draft order, until August 31st 2015. Moreover, ANRE requires under the new draft order a dangerous practice: the contract sent by the current supplier is considered tacitly accepted if by August 31st 2015 the consumer fails to choose another consumer. Apparently, this decision is in favor of consumers, apparently it is a method to protect them, but a careful analysis proves that by this obligation the current suppliers will tacitly get a hold of 71,000 non-household consumers, imposing prices about 10-20% higher than the market price. Extension of the transition period to the liberalized market for non-household consumers, another legal method to put money into the pockets of some suppliers. The Gas Law contains provisions determining the actions that can be taken by suppliers on July 1st 2015 if a consumer fails to sign a contract with a supplier, their tacit takeover not being among them. The Fair Gas Price campaign has weekly warned over the past 6 months on the way in which non-households were informed on January 1st 2015, but especially on the way in which customers were informed that they are in a period of transition, following to join the free market entirely as of July 1st 2015.