Energy bills, what’s behind the case of charges not paid by Green network. And because in the end, consumers always pay

After several postponements, the end of protected energy market for the customers domestic it is now scheduled for January 1, 2023. For many it will be a “dangerous” leap into the void. Already today both markets have their troubles, so much so that our country pays for the most expensive electricity in Europe, without the majority of citizens knowing what it really consumes. On the other hand, on the bill matter energy affects only one 30% and other voices weigh a lot, like taxes, RAI fees and system charges. The complete transition to the free market, which, in theory, should favor the search for the right tariff and additional services, risks adding new and more risky uncertainties. It is no coincidence that, twenty years after liberalization (at least on paper), they are served in the free market on 68% of non-domestic customers and the 56% of domestic ones, with almost 13 million families still linked to enhanced protection contracts regulated by the Regulatory Authority for Energy, Networks and the Environment, which establishes the conditions for avoiding surges or speculation. In this context of expectation and concern, the story concerning the Green Network spa, to shed light on which the M5S group leader in the Chamber, Davide Crippa, has just deposited a question addressed to the ministers of economic development, ecological transition and the economy.

THE GREEN NETWORK CASE – According to Prosecutor of Rome, the company would “unduly withheld sums relating to general system charges“Allocating them to purposes other than those for which the law had required payment, in most cases to private citizens. In 2019, of the 331 million euros collected from the bills, the company paid to its supplier e-distribution of the Enel group 165, withholding 166 million. Having already advanced them to the competent public bodies, e-Distribuzione asked for the reimbursement to the Energy and Environmental Services Fund (Csea). The investigation started with a report from Arera, to which e-Distribuzione had in turn reported missed payments. At the center of the investigation that resulted in two episodes. In the spring of 2019, the transfer of almost all the customers that Green Network had on the Enel network on the transport contract of another trader, in the same days in which e-Distribuzione notified the company of theimminent termination of the contract. Months after a similar episode. But, beyond the investigation, the problem is who pays the debts and who settles it.

THE BACKSCENE – Green Network explains that it has acted in compliance with the law and the resolution 50/2018 of Arera. And he points out that the amounts for which Enel Distribuzione requested reimbursement refer to “a normal one transaction stipulated between the two companies, communicated in advance with the utmost transparency to the Arera “, which had nothing to object to. Transaction did not go unnoticed by the engineer Edoardo Beltrame, energy expert, who already had it reported on his blog, in August 2020. “Electricity suppliers operate in a market that remains checked by the distributor of reference, e-distribution – explains Beltrame a – to which they pay the general system charges, regardless of whether their customer pays their bills or not ”. The Green Network had come to a debt of 343 million euros. “With the transaction it was established that the trader would repay part of the debt – he adds – and that the rest (over 200 million, ed) came excerpted. The mechanism that would have allowed e-Distribuzione to recover a large part of the written-off debt is that provided for in two resolutions of Arera (50/2018 and 568/2019) which therefore allow sign settlement agreements and socialize accumulated outstanding payments (deemed no longer recoverable, ed), downloading them to consumers “. On the other hand, if E-Distribuzione refused the deal, it could have socialized the entire shortfall. In practice, consumers would pay (even more). “The risk is that this type of agreement between private individuals with concrete effects on citizens’ bills, encourages irregular behavior” adds Beltrame. Asked by Arera preferred not to make any statements.

THE INTERROGATION – In the question, M5S Crippa deputy asked for clarification on the agreement between the company and Enel Distribuzione “which – he writes – would then collect the remaining amount from CSEA, therefore from the bills of citizens who, I remember, have already contributed the payment of general charges with bills directed to Green Network “. Crippa wonders how Arera, according to Green Network’s statements, may have “had nothing to object to”, considering that the company “was sanctioned in 2019“With a fine of 644 thousand euros” from the same Authority for violations on the contractual conditions for the supply of electricity and natural gas to end customers “, in addition to being the subject of an investigation of theCompetition and Market Authority, which denies it failed transparency in the indication of the economic conditions of supply ‘.

THE ROLE OF ENEL – Beltrame, however, links the agreement concluded by Enel to the liberalization in the sector drawn up in the 1990s by the decree Bersani “Which has never been realized. Unbundling has never been achieved – he explains – that is the clear separation between production, distribution and sale. And still today, in the protected market, 86% of the distributor is Enel, present in both markets ”. In fact, in the first half of 2020 the group collected 156 million euros thanks to the application of the resolutions on partial reinstatement of the unpaid sellers. And, again in implementation of Resolution 50, it recovered 221 million in 2019 and 145 in 2018, largely related to the termination of the contract with Gala.

THE GALA CASE – A few years ago it was the fourth Italian operator in the sale of electricity, listed on the stock exchange. The price of electricity supplies to the PA was linked to the value of the Brent crude oil, principle applied by Consip and, in 2014, Gala brought home a subcontracting from one billion euros, thanks to very low offers. Then there was, in 2015, the collapse of the price of oil. Gala asked for an overhaul of the contract onerousness occurred ‘, which Consip refused. “The company did resorted to the Tar and lost – Beltrame says – but it was saved by an amendment to the stability law which allowed the revision of the electricity supply price ”if that of oil had undergone“ an increase or a decrease of not less than 10% ”. To sign it the small letter Elisa Simoni, distant cousin of Matteo Renzi. Thus the president and ad Filippo Tortoriello asked Consip to review the supercontract supply conditions. Meanwhile, i debts had reached nearly 500 million (enough to push Gala, in 2017, on the verge of bankruptcy): about half ended up in the system charges, to be passed on to citizens. And it’s not over yet. “From Court of Auditors – explains Beltrame – we learn that, even after having renegotiated the supply prices with Consip, Gala has asked Consip for compensation of at least 71.3 million euros for the period prior to the agreement “. Different path, similar ending, where consumers always pay through system charges.

SYSTEM CHARGES – This item weighs on the bill for about “14 billion euros in 2020, hovering around 22% of the annual expenditure for the typical domestic customer“Explained the president of Arera, Stefano Besseghini. The money arrives in the coffers of the CSEA and is used in various ways: incentives to renewable, decommissioning nuclear power, but also for bailouts, such as those of Alitalia e Ilva. For the protected market, more than 65% of the charges relate to incentives for renewable sources. “It is absurd that the old woman in difficulty should contribute with her electricity bill to help the owner of a villa to install photovoltaic panels”, commented Marco Vignola, responsible for the energy sector of the National Consumers Union. In fact, a widespread opinion is that it is necessary to transfer these charges to general taxation. Otherwise, this being the case, the paradox is that those who consume less, not amortizing the expense, pay more (as shown by the bills on second homes). This goes against any indication of the EU. And one wonders what will happen with the end of the enhanced protection market “which, in any case, provides a certain protection to the consumer – explains Beltrame – also through disputes. In the free market, law will be needed word for word to avoid scams. And the ability to cancel business risk is an attraction for the myriad of suppliers entering the market ”. Would it be better to postpone the farewell to the Greater Protection Department yet? “Those who have had the reins up to now will also benefit from it, but the alternative, at the moment, is even worse”.

THE RISKS OF THE FREE MARKET – In recent days, in the Chamber, hearings have been held on a resolution M5S, first signed by Crippa, which proposes to commit the Government “to adopt initiatives” also of a regulatory nature “which provide for the establishment of a monthly fixing of prices at the single national price“And to favor others that put consumers in the conditions of being able to” evaluate the various contractual proposals and sellers that best meet their needs “. But is the free market worthwhile? In the meantime, there is the problem “of the ‘market of safeguard‘, the most expensive – explains Crippa – where consumers end up undecided who do not immediately choose a new supplier and also those who had a contract with suppliers that then failed “. According to Arera, on average, costs in the free market are higher “with a differential, in 2020, of about 4 euro cents per kilowatt hour”. In that average there is everything, even affordable rates and serious operators. But in total they are 600, many born out of nowhere and ready to trade irregularly. In 2017 they did not reach 140, but they multiplied after the 2017 competition law which, however, provided for the establishment of a or and the definition of precise requirements to operate. We are still awaiting deThe ok of the Council of State to the decree establishing the List of persons admitted for sale. And if in the meantime someone fails, Pantalone pays.

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