Report: Electricity retail markets in Europe division of duties between suppliers and DSOs

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1 LAPPEENRANTA UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY LAPPEENRANTA UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING Report: Electricity retail markets in Europe division of duties between suppliers and DSOs M.Sc. Salla Annala and Prof. Satu Viljainen BOX 20, FIN LAPPEENRANTA, FINLAND, tel , fax

2 1 Table of contents 1 Introduction Competitive retail markets in electricity Competition indicators Customer activity Number of suppliers Market shares of suppliers Correlation between retail and wholesale electricity prices Competition in European electricity retail markets Quantitative information about European countries Data collection by regulators Barriers to competition Measures to improve the market functioning Results of the inquiry Retail market model principles Market opening Market dynamics Contracts and invoicing Notification of price changes Switching process Distribution network as electricity market place Metering Other duties Environmental issues Division of tasks in some European countries Market opening Contracts and invoicing Switching process Metering Other duties Comparison of the models References APPENDIX 1: Summary of the questionnaire... 46

3 2 1 Introduction All European Union member countries have been required to open their electricity markets to all customers and to unbundle electricity supply and network services. However, no binding regulation was created on how tasks should be divided between electricity suppliers and distribution system operators. Therefore, the retail market models applied in Europe have differences. This report studies the division of tasks between electricity suppliers and distribution system operators (DSOs). A special focus is on how the unbundling is visible to the customers (e.g. does the customer receive separate invoices for electricity supply and network services). To gain information about the retail market models, an internet-based questionnaire was sent to Energy Regulatory Authorities of all 27 European Union member countries and Norway, Iceland and Switzerland. The questions concerned the division of duties between electricity suppliers and distribution system operators. The questionnaire included mostly multiple choice questions but also some open questions and room for free comments. Responses to the inquiry were received from 16 countries; 15 European Union member countries and Norway. Chapter 2 gives an overview of competitive electricity markets by introducing some commonly used competition indicators and describing barriers to competition. Chapter 3 focuses on the division of duties between electricity suppliers and distribution system operators. Chapter 4 introduces how some basic tasks are divided in some European countries. In chapter 5, the retail market models are compared.

4 3 2 Competitive retail markets in electricity The requirement for full retail market opening was set in directive 2003/54/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council. The deadline for making all consumers eligible to choose their electricity supplier was 1 July Some European countries had fully opened their markets in the 1990 s, well before the time limit. In order to enable competition, the EU member countries were required to unbundle electricity supply from distribution and thereby form the electricity networks as a market place where electricity distribution remained a monopoly service. Before the market opening, customers typically bought electric energy and network services as one service from electric utility that had a local monopoly within the area of one municipality or several municipalities. In some countries, there was only one national utility that served all customers. In the liberalized market, customers may freely choose their supplier. Households and small- and medium-sized industrial and commercial customers typically buy electricity from retail markets, and the largest consumers either buy it from the wholesale market or produce it themselves. Table 2.1 shows the timetable of full retail market opening in the European Union and Norway. The countries marked with shaded area answered our inquiry concerning the division of duties between electricity suppliers and distribution system operators.

5 4 Table 2.1 Timetable for market opening. Country Austria 2001 Full retail market opening Belgium * 2007 (Wallonia) Bulgaria 2007 (EC 2007) Cyprus 2014 (CERA 2007) Czech Republic 2006 Denmark 2003 Estonia 2013 Finland 1997/1998 France 2007 Germany 1998 Greece 2007 (RAE 2007) Hungary 2007 Ireland 2005 Italy 2007 (AEEG 2007) Latvia 2007 (PUC 2007) Lithuania 2007 Luxembourg 2007 Malta Not open Netherlands 2004 (DTe 2007) Norway 1995 Poland 2007 (ERO 2007) Portugal 2006 (ERSE 2007) Romania 2007 (ANRE 2007) Slovakia 2007 (RONI 2008) Slovenia 2007 Spain 2003 (CNE 2008) Sweden 1999 United Kingdom 1999 * From Belgium, the responses were received from the energy regulator of Wallonia. The retail electricity markets were fully opened in Wallonia and Brussels region in The Flemish market was fully opened earlier.

6 5 Of the European Union member countries Estonia, Cyprus and Malta have not yet fully opened their electricity markets. Malta and Cyprus qualify as small isolated systems as defined in point (26) of Article 2 of Directive 2003/54/EC. Both countries have been granted derogations from full implementation of the directive. The requirement for market opening is therefore not applied to Malta. The electricity market of Cyprus was liberalized by 35 % in In January 2009 all non-households will become eligible and in January 2014 all consumers may choose their supplier (CERA 2007). Estonia was granted a temporary derogation until 31 December The Estonian electricity market will be fully opened 1 January The electricity market directive did not define how the tasks formerly performed by one utility should be divided between the distribution system operators (DSOs) and the suppliers. Therefore, there are differences in how the division of tasks is implemented in the European countries. Tasks that are in one country duties of the DSOs, may be performed by the suppliers in another country. So far, there have been no wide studies of the differences in retail electricity market models applied in the European countries. Lately, there has been discussion about whether the retail market models should be harmonized at least in some level. This report studies, how the division of tasks between DSOs and suppliers is implemented for the moment. First, however, some commonly used indicators to evaluate the success of retail market opening are briefly introduced. Also, barriers to competition are discussed. 2.1 Competition indicators This chapter describes some commonly used competition indicators for retail electricity markets. It also presents some quantitative information from the European countries Customer activity Numbers relating to customer activity are possibly the most often used figures to indicate the effectiveness of competition. In many cases, only the numbers relating to supplier switching, presented as the share of customers who have switched supplier since the market opening or the number of switches during the previous year, are observed. Also

7 6 the similar figures relating to renegotiating with the incumbent supplier describe the customer activity Number of suppliers The number of suppliers is one indicator of retail market development. Apart from the total number of suppliers in the market, the number of fully independent suppliers and number of newcomers since the market opening are important figures to describe the ease of market access. Also, the number of suppliers offering electricity outside their traditional supply area is an interesting figure since it reveals the true number of options for the customers Market shares of suppliers Market shares of the suppliers are also an often viewed indicator. In many cases, due to confidentiality reasons, the market shares of individual suppliers can not be published. Therefore, the aggregated market share of the three largest suppliers and the number of suppliers with a market share of more than 5 per cent are often provided Correlation between retail and wholesale electricity prices The high correlation between retail and wholesale electricity prices is often seen as a sign of a well functioning market. Often, the retail prices are compared to spot prices of the power exchanges. This comparison is frequently also used for estimating retail margins of the suppliers since the exchange prices are the best estimate for suppliers acquisition costs. However, in most cases the electricity suppliers have hedged their acquisition price beforehand in the forward market or with long-term contracts. Compared to spot prices, the price development, for instance, in the forward market is relatively stable. This, in addition to the regulations concerning retail price changes, may explain the low correlation in some cases. 2.2 Competition in European electricity retail markets This chapter gives quantitative data about European electricity retail markets. It also describes what kind of information the regulators collect and publish concerning electricity retail markets.

8 Quantitative information about European countries This chapter presents quantitative data about competition indicators. The figures are mainly based on the Energy Regulatory Authorities annual reports to the European Commission. Some of the countries that opened their markets in 2007 are not included since there is yet no data from the situation after the full market opening. First, information about customer activity in the respondent countries is presented in table 2.2.

9 8 Table 2.2 Customer activity in the respondent countries. Country Austria (E-Control 2007) Share of customers who have switched supplier since the market opening 4.1% of domestic electricity consumers (by September 2006) Annual switching rate 0.9 % of domestic consumers (2006) and 1.7 % of other small consumers N/A Belgium, Wallonia (CWaPE 2008) 49.5 % of customers have switched or renegotiated (end of 2007) Czech Republic (ERÚ Since the beginning of the liberalization 46,016 supplier switches in ) a total of 63,076 entities have changed their supplier Denmark (DERA 2007) 6 % of customers equaling 62 % of 1.4 % of customers equaling 9 % consumption of total consumption (2006) Finland (EMV 2008) N/A About 4% of all customers in 2007, 3 % of households and other permanent dwellings consuming <10000kWh/a 6.8 % >10000kWh/a France (CRE 2008) 12.5 % of non residential and 1 % of N/A residential by volume About 10 % of domestic customers 7.9 % measured by volume in 2006 Germany (BNetza 2007; Verivox 2008) Hungary (HEO 2007) 35 % of net consumption in 2006 (households became eligible only in 2007) Ireland (CER 2008) N/A (domestic switching negligible) N/A Lithuania (NCC 2008) N/A No households switched in 2007 Luxembourg (ILR 2008) N/A % of domestic customers switched between 1 July 2007 and 31 December 2007 Norway (NVE 2007; NordREG 2007) Slovenia (Energy Agency of the Republic of Slovenia 2008) At least half of Norwegian households have switched supplier at least once N/A N/A households and business customers switched in 2006 In total 2.6 million metering points 8.5 % based on number of sites 3695 customers connected to the distribution network switched in % based on number of sites 3.6 % based on consumption Sweden (EI 2008) United Kingdom (Ofgem 2008a) About 55 % of households have switched supplier or renegotiated with incumbent supplier At least 75 % of consumers who take both gas and electricity have switched energy supplier at least once About 10 % of all electricity consumers in % based on number of sites (05/06-04/07) Customer activity has been remarkable especially in United Kingdom and Norway. The large share of customers who have switched supplier is partly explained by the fact that these countries were among the first to fully open their electricity markets. The customer

10 9 activity has, however, remained high in these countries and the annual switching rates are still high. VaasaETT has also studied the switching activity in retail electricity markets. It has divided retail electricity markets to five categories, depending on the supplier switching activity in the market. The definitions of the categories and the respondent countries belonging to each category (in 2007) are presented in table 2.3 (VaasaETT 2008). Table 2.3 Annual switching activities in the respondent countries in 2007 (VaasaETT 2008). Category Annual switching Respondent countries Hot Markets Approximately 15 % or higher United Kingdom, Wallonia (Belgium) Warm Active Markets Between 9.5 % and 15 % Norway, Sweden Active Markets Between 3.5 % and 9.5 % Finland, Germany Cool Active Markets Between 1 % and 3.5 % Denmark, Slovenia, Austria, Ireland Dormant Markets Less than 1 % Czech Republic, France, Luxembourg, Lithuania All of the retail electricity markets of the respondent countries, which VaasaETT considers dormant, have been open only since 2006 or The hot, warm active and active markets were opened in the 1990s except for Wallonia. Information about number of suppliers is given in table 2.4.

11 10 Table 2.4 Number of suppliers in the respondent countries. Country Current number of suppliers Number of new or independent suppliers Belgium, Wallonia 15 5 new suppliers in 2007 (CWaPE 2008) Czech Republic (ERÚ 2008) 293 in 2007 About 20 (sell mainly to large industrial customers, some also to small customers Denmark (DERA 2007) About 65 in retail market 5 totally independent of network or Finland (EMV 2008) >70 in the household market (approximately one third actively market electricity outside their traditional supply area) generation companies <5 fully independent suppliers France (CRE 2007) 160 incumbents in 2006 N/A Germany (BNetzA 4 large suppliers and approximately pure retail companies 2007; Verivox 2008) regional suppliers, 725 municipal Ireland (CER 2008) Lithuania (NCC 2008) Luxembourg (ILR 2008) suppliers, 150 pure retail companies 9 (of which 2 offer to the small 7 independent suppliers business and domestic market) 6 public suppliers, 18 independent 8 active independent suppliers suppliers (of which 8 active) in retail suppliers in new supplier for domestic customers and 2 for industrial (2 independent suppliers) Norway (NVE 2007) About 130 ~25 with offers in all grid areas in Norway Slovenia (Energy Agency of the Republic of Slovenia 2008) Sweden (EI 2008) United Kingdom (Ofgem 2008a) 14 retail suppliers in 2007 N/A About 125 that sell to the households of which 96 sell to whole country (220 in 1996) 6 large + 5 who are not former incumbents ~5 independent suppliers (none of these has a market share of over 4 % measured in the amount of total realized volume) N/A 5 active suppliers who are not former incumbents (serve less than 0.3 % of domestic electricity supply) Most open electricity markets have attracted new suppliers. The market shares of the independent suppliers are, however, often small even in those markets, where the switching rates are high. The biggest competition usually comes from incumbents acting outside their traditional area. Information about the market shares of the suppliers is given in table 2.5.

12 11 Table 2.5 Market shares of suppliers in the respondent countries. Country Market share of the three largest suppliers Number of suppliers with a market share of over 5 % Austria (E-Control 2007) 54% 7 Czech Republic (ERÚ 95 % measured in volume ( ) % in low voltage level) Denmark (DERA 2007) N/A ~7 (estimate) Finland (EMV 2008) % in the retail market for 4 small and medium-sized customers France (CRE 2007) 86 % measured in volume in 1 (in market eligible 2006) eligible market 2006 (households not eligible) Germany (BNetzA 2007) 45 % measured in volume N/A Lithuania (NCC 2008) Largest two: 87% of electricity N/A sold to domestic customers. Luxembourg (ILR 2008) 93 % in household market in Household market: 2 in Norway (NVE 2007) 43 % measured in volume (all consumers), in the household market: 28 % (2004) 5 in the market of household consumers, 4 in the market of medium sized industrial and commercial sector, 2 in the market of Slovenia (Energy Agency of the Republic of Slovenia 2008) Sweden (EI 2008) United Kingdom (Ofgem 2008a) large and very large industrial customers 64 % (at the end of 2007) 6 About 50 % measured in 3 volume, 43 % based on number of customers About 59 % of domestic supply Data collection by regulators In the inquiry to the European Energy Regulatory Authorities, we asked whether the regulators collect and publish certain competition indicators. The results of this question are in table 2.6.

13 12 Table 2.6 Data collected and published by regulators. Market indicator Regulator collects Regulator publishes Number of end-customers switching from one supplier to another during the year Number of end-customers renegotiating contracts with their 1 2 supplier during the year Total number of suppliers offering electricity to end-customers Number of suppliers offering electricity to end-customers outside 11 8 their own area Prices within the obligation to supply 7 10 Offer prices to end-customers 7 7 Retail margins of suppliers 2 2 The number of end-customers switching the supplier during the year is commonly collected in the respondent countries of the inquiry. The same can not be said of the number of end-customers renegotiating during the year. The regulators were also asked what other information they consider important for monitoring the retail electricity market. This question was answered by seven regulators. The most common responses were: - Market shares of suppliers (by consumption and number of customers) and their development over time - Price development - Shares of customers on different contract types - Number of customers that are supplied by default supplier 2.3 Barriers to competition Transforming the electricity networks into a marketplace has not gone without problems. Customers were accustomed to buying electricity as one monopoly service that included the supply and network service, and understanding the separation of these services was difficult especially at the beginning. As noticed later in this report, customers still have troubles understanding the separation.

14 13 Problems of the liberalized energy markets have been noticed also by the European Commission. Therefore, an energy sector inquiry was launched in 2005, and the final report was published in January 2007 (European Commission 2007). One of the major barriers to competition observed in the report was the ineffective unbundling of supply and network activities. Despite the possibility to choose their supplier, even most of the new connections contract with a supply company affiliated to the DSO, as shown in table 2.7. Table 2.7 Percentage of new connections contracting with a supply company affiliated to the DSO in (European Commission 2007). Percentage of new connections contracting Member state with a supply company affiliated to the DSO 97.5%-100 % Estonia, France, Greece, Ireland, Luxembourg, Poland, Slovakia 95%-97.5% Austria, Germany, Spain 90-95% Italy <90% Netherlands, United Kingdom The high figures of table 2.7 may be due to the co-existence of regulated and marketbased prices. There have also been suspicions, that the network companies have favored their affiliate suppliers. For example, the affiliated supply companies have approached the customers with switching intentions with improved offers. Also, there have been delays in providing the new suppliers with customer data needed for switching. In some countries it was even reported, that network related charges had increased after the supplier switch. Also, the problems in wholesale and balancing markets reflect to the retail electricity markets. Concentration and highly volatile prices in these markets can be a serious entry barrier for new suppliers without own generation capacity. (European Commission 2007) Also the European Regulators Group for Electricity and Gas has published many reports concerning the retail electricity markets. A report about obstacles to supplier switching

15 14 by Ergeg (2008a) stated that the regulated prices are perhaps the largest obstacle to supplier switching. The customers do not have incentives to switch because the regulated prices are often lower than the market prices. Regulated prices still coexist with the competitive prices in many countries. More than 85 per cent of the household customers are supplied in price regulated market in six of the respondent countries. These are Denmark, France, Hungary, Ireland, Lithuania and Estonia. In Estonia, the retail market is still closed. Price regulation in some form may exist also in the other countries, but in them, less than 15 per cent of the customers are supplied with regulated prices (Ergeg 2008b). Ofgem defined barriers to entry and growth in The major problems raised by the market participants were (Ofgem 2008a): - Scale economies, branding and cost of finance - Pricing policies of some suppliers - Inadequate liquidity in the wholesale markets - Regulatory and compliance requirements - Vertical integration The same problems have been acknowledged also in other markets and other studies. Starting a supply business in a new country naturally causes start-up costs. These are related to e.g. building the necessary IT systems and brand-building costs. Of the unavoidable start-up costs, IT system costs can possibly be reduced by harmonized technical standards. Instead, marketing and branding costs, as well as the language related issues are bound to require case-specific assessing whenever a supplier enters a new market. Vertical integration between retail suppliers and generators reduces these suppliers need to buy and sell electricity in the wholesale level. Therefore, vertical integration can bring down liquidity of the wholesale market. Meanwhile, a liquid wholesale market is a

16 15 necessity for the new suppliers without own generation capacity to enter the market and compete with the vertically integrated companies. In some countries, the independent suppliers have complained about the pricing policies of large suppliers that are vertically integrated with generators. The complaints refer to situations when the retail prices of the vertically integrated suppliers have been lower than the prices on the wholesale market. In these situations, it has been impossible for the independent suppliers to compete with the vertically integrated companies. 2.4 Measures to improve the market functioning The measures aiming for giving the customers information about market liberalization, and the roles and duties of market participants were studied by Ergeg earlier this year (Ergeg 2008b). Their inquiry was aimed to energy regulators and 28 responses were received to questions regarding electricity markets (Belgian regions Flanders and Wallonia are treated separately). The number of countries, where certain means of giving customers general information about market liberalization, roles and duties of market participants, are presented in table 2.8. Table 2.8 Measures for improving awareness (Ergeg 2008b). Means of giving customers general information about market liberalization, roles Frequency of and duties of market participants use Document or leaflet individually addressed to customers by suppliers and/or DSOs (e.g. 20 letter, leaflet attached to bill, customer newsletter, ) Document or leaflet individually addressed to customers by another organization (e.g. 8 government, consumer organizations) Information available on the internet (information website, online FAQs) 28 National campaign including advertising in the media 13 In United Kingdom, a media campaign to name and shame suppliers, who have not put their customers first, has been carried out by the regulator. The regulator, for example, urged the former electricity incumbents to cut prices and named a company with the most to do to improve in giving help to customers who are in risk of falling into debt with energy bills (Ofgem 2008a).

17 16 Price comparison services Easily available price information facilitates making the switching decision. 44 per cent of the regulators that answered our inquiry about the division of duties between electricity suppliers and DSOs collect and publish offer prices to end customers. However, price comparison services exist also in many other respondent countries. Apart from energy regulatory authorities, they are provided by competition authorities, consumer organizations and private websites (Ergeg 2006). In another study conducted by Ergeg, it was noticed, that at least one price calculator for electricity exists in 15 European Union member states (Ergeg 2008b). Price comparison services are mainly available in the internet. Especially elder people do not always have access to internet and therefore can not make use of these services. In some countries, the services can also be reached by telephone.

18 17 3 Results of the inquiry This chapter presents the main results of the inquiry done to the European Energy Regulatory Authorities. The respondent countries are listed in table 2.1. Also, some results of another regulator inquiry conducted by Ergeg (2008b), are discussed. 3.1 Retail market model principles The different ways to divide the tasks between electricity suppliers and DSOs can be simplified into the two market models presented in figure 3.1. Figure 3.1 Simplified retail market models. According to responses to the inquiry, both models are applied in equally many of the respondent countries. The regulators were also asked, which of the models they considered easier to understand for the customers, and which one best facilitates market access for new suppliers. The results concerning the simplified market models are presented in table 3.1. Table 3.1 Results concerning simplified market models. Model I Model II Best describes the retail market model applied in your country 50 % 50 % Easier to understand for the customers 27 % 73 % Best facilitates market access for new suppliers 57 % 43 %

19 18 As can be seen from the division of answers, model II was considered to be easier to understand for the customers, and model I was thought to facilitate market access for new suppliers. In all the countries that apply model II, the supplier is responsible for the debt collection of network service fees if the customer has delayed payments. 3.2 Market opening The electricity markets were fully opened by 1 July 2007 in all respondent countries except for Estonia, which has been granted a derogation from full implementation of the directive 2003/54/EC until Of the respondent countries, the first to fully open its retail electricity markets was Norway. The Norwegian market was fully opened in In six of the respondent countries, eligibility was extended to cover all customers in In most of the respondent countries, the market opening did not require any actions from the customers. Only in three countries, customer action was required and only in one country, customers were required to actively choose a new supplier as the market was opened. In the other cases, the required actions were concluding network contracts and accepting new term of business. In over half of the countries, the default supplier for the customers is the local supplier, or the supplier having the largest market share within a network area. The default supplier can also be appointed by the DSO. This is the case in two countries. In one country, the DSOs act as default suppliers. Supply obligations Although customers were given the right to switch suppliers, in order to protect the customers, some suppliers were obligated to sell electricity to all or most small customers, including at least households and in many cases also small business customers. This kind of obligation exists in over two thirds of the countries. There are, however, differences in when the supply obligation is applied. In over half of the countries, household customers can ask to be supplied by the obligated supplier always when they want to. In some countries, this applies also to small business

20 19 customers. Elsewhere, the right to this kind of supply is more limited. It is applied e.g. only to vulnerable (low income) customers or when the customer s supplier goes bankrupt. In some countries, it is applied to customers, who have not chosen a supplier but this right can be limited in time. In five countries, the obliged supplier is the local supplier, or the supplier having the largest share of customers in a network area. In some countries, all suppliers may be obliged to sell to household customers. The obliged supplier may also be designated by the regulator or by the DSO. In one of the countries, the DSO acts as the supplier of last resort. The prices within the supply obligations are public information in all but one of the countries. In two thirds of the countries, these prices are also regulated. Customer awareness The regulators were also asked whether they think the customers have understood well the separation between electricity supply and distribution. In a majority of the countries, the regulators considered that the customers had not understood the separation well. Only four regulators thought that customers in their country had understood the separation well. It was also asked, what had been done to improve customers understanding about the separation. Most often mentioned way to improve customer awareness was informative websites by regulators. These contain general information about open electricity markets and, in many cases, price comparison services. Also, in some countries the suppliers and DSOs have distributed information on their web pages. Regulators have also published leaflets and brochures that have been mailed to the customers. Information has also been in the media. At least one regulator had a call center for customers. At least one regulator also monitors DSOs web pages to make sure that the pages are clear on the difference between DSO and supplier. One regulator stated

21 20 that this kind of information is not distributed since customers do not have to contact the network companies directly. Conclusions of market opening Table 3.2 gives a summary of the market opening and obligation to supply. Table 3.2 Summary of market opening. Yes No Retail customers had to react to the retail market opening 3 13 Household customers always have the right to be supplied by the obliged supplier 9 7 Prices within the obligation to supply are public information 14 1 Prices within the obligation to supply are regulated 10 5 End-customers have understood well the separation between electricity supply and distribution Market dynamics The market dynamics are influenced by the regulation concerning price changes. Also, the simplicity of the switching process can affect customers willingness to switch supplier Contracts and invoicing The regulators were asked whether the customers have to make separate contracts for electricity supply and network services. The question was inadequate, since in some countries, both the situation of one and separate contracts coexist. According to a study conducted by Ergeg and answered by 28 European energy regulators earlier this year, in 12 European countries, customers have a single contract for these services, in 10 countries, customers have separate contracts or legal relationships and in 6 countries both situations coexist (Ergeg 2008b). The duration of supply contracts is regulated in three countries. Several different invoicing methods are applied in the respondent countries. The supplier s invoice may contain both the supply fee and the network service fee, or both the supplier and the DSO may send separate invoices. In some countries, the combined

22 21 invoice can be sent also by the DSO. Often, the customers who have remained with the incumbent supplier receive a combined invoice, and the customers who have switched supplier receive separate invoices. Different invoicing methods are presented in table 3.3. The table also gives information about how the invoicing is carried out in the different retail market models. Model I refers to the model, in which the customer is in legal relationship with both the supplier and the DSO, and model II to the supplier centric model. Table 3.3 Invoicing arrangements. The supplier's invoice may contain both the supply fee and the network service fee The distribution system operator's invoice may contain both the supply fee and the network service fee Separate invoices for the supply fee and the network service fee are possible Number of countries Model I Model II 15/ / / In six countries, customers always get just one invoice that includes both the fees for the electricity supply and the network service. These are all countries that apply the supplier centric retail market model. If electricity supply and network services are charged in the same invoice, the costs are separated in 14 countries. The separation of the costs is not mandatory in two countries (UK and Luxembourg). From the 10 countries, where the supplier and DSO may send separate invoices, receiving only one invoice after supplier switching is also possible in all but one. However, although obtaining one invoice would be possible in accordance with the law, offering this option may be up to the suppliers and DSOs. Generally, the differing invoicing methods are not seen as a problem by the regulators. However, one regulator told that they are planning mandatory separation of invoices because the combined invoices are complicated.

23 22 Besides the costs of electricity supply and network services, some other fees are often included in the invoices. Electricity tax is levied in all countries but UK. In nine countries, it is charged by the supplier and in six by the DSO. In four of the nine countries, where the supplier charges the electricity tax, it is always the supplier who sends an invoice to the customer Notification of price changes The time limit and the way in which the customer must be notified about a price change have impact on market dynamics. If the notification time is long, the retail prices can not be expected to have a high correlation with the wholesale prices. Also, the costs that the notification causes to the supplier have an influence on market dynamics. The notification time for changing supply price is commonly regulated. The division between the required notification times is presented in table 3.4. Table 3.4 Required notification times for changing supply price. Notification time Less than a month 4 1 month 7 More than a month 3 No regulation 2 The required notification methods are presented in table 3.5. Table 3.5 Required notification method in case of a change in supply price. Required notification method Notification directly to the customer s invoicing 6 address Notification in a newspaper 4 Notification on the supplier s web page 1 Combination of methods 3 No specific method 2

24 23 Notification directly to the customer s invoicing address can be done e.g. by a letter or a notification in a customer magazine. Some respondents stated that instead of notification to the customer s invoicing address, the notification is considered adequate if it is done both on the supplier s web page and in one or more newspapers. In two countries, there is no binding regulation, as long as the customers are informed Switching process In order to facilitate supplier switching for the customers, the switching process should be made easy and simple. In this study, the simplicity of the switching process is evaluated according to the required contacts that the customers have to make when switching suppliers. Point of contact In 13 countries, the customer has to contact only the new supplier, who then contacts the old supplier and the DSO. In the other countries, the customer has to contact at least two different parties (e.g. the new supplier, and also the old supplier or the DSO). If the supplier switching can cause some costs to the customer, the willingness to switch may decrease. In most respondent countries, the supplier switching is always free of charge for the customers. Time limits There are no time limits for the supplier switch to take effect in two countries. In the other respondent countries, there are varying time limits. The longest allowed delay for the switch to take effect is two months. The strictest time limit of the respondent countries is 17 working days for low voltage customers and 8 working days for the other customers. The switching may take, at the most, one month in seven countries. In some of the countries, the switch can only take effect in a certain date, e.g. in the end or beginning of a month.

25 24 Problems in the switching process In over half of the respondent countries, there have been problems in the information exchange required in supplier switching. In many cases, the problems are technical, relating to non-standard data formats and errors in dataflow between DSOs and suppliers. Other problems mentioned were: - availability of customer s network ID - incorrect information leading to mystery switches - problems in ending old contracts - meter value management - lack of binding regulation for the switching process (for example regarding time limits and what information should be sent) - delays In one third of the respondent countries, there have been complaints that the DSOs have favored their affiliate suppliers. The problems included: - staff of the DSOs have recommended their affiliate suppliers - doubts that the DSOs have delayed the switching process - doubts that the DSOs have given unnecessary information about the supplier switching to their affiliate suppliers - information about new customers given to the affiliate supplier - difficulties in canceling old contracts The problems in the data exchange between suppliers and DSOs may be partly due to lack of binding rules. In Finland, Lithuania, Luxembourg and Slovenia the contents of data exchange in switching process are not standardized (Ergeg 2008b). The same applies to data format in Finland and Luxembourg. The data format and contents will be standardized in Finland after Conclusions on switching process Table 3.6 gives a summary about the supplier switching process.

26 25 Table 3.6 Summary of the switching process. Yes No New supplier is the only party the customer needs to contact in order to switch supplier 13 3 Supplier switching is always free of charge for the customer 14 2 There are time limits for the supplier switch to take effect 14 2 There have been problems in information exchange required for supplier switching Distribution network as electricity market place The DSOs role is not totally invisible for the customers in any of the respondent countries. In most countries they, at the least, conclude connection contracts with the customers. Apart from maintaining and developing the network, the DSOs are in charge of many duties that are necessary for the market to function, for example metering the energy consumption. In most European countries, invoices based on estimated consumption values still exist. Of the respondents of the Ergeg inquiry, this is the case in 24 countries; only four countries do not have invoices based on estimated consumption (Ergeg 2008b). In many countries, the DSOs also charge the electricity tax or environmental fees from the customers Metering Metering is one of the basic duties of electricity markets since it is the basis of invoicing and balance settlement. The DSOs are in normal cases responsible for carrying out the metering activity in 15 countries. In some of these countries, the customer may also request someone else to perform this task. Only in UK, the supplier is in charge of arranging the metering. However, the customer is often the one performing the meterreading. The meter-reading frequency is regulated in 12 countries. The requirements depend on the customer (annual consumption or size of the main fuse) and meter type. The meters of the customers, who are equipped with smart meters, are read more often than the traditional meters.

27 26 For the traditionally metered small customers (e.g. households), the most common requirement for metering frequency is once a year. The longest allowed time span between meter-readings is three years. The strictest requirement will come into force in 1 July 2009 in Sweden when all meters must be read monthly. Table 3.7 summarizes the regulation concerning metering. Table 3.7 Summary of metering. Yes No DSO is responsible for the metering activity 15 1 Meter-reading frequency is regulated 12 4 Some countries have started measures to replace all or some of the traditional meters with smart meters. The benefits that the smart meters are expected to bring, include e.g. - providing customers with better information about their consumption - invoicing based on actual consumption and thereby invoices that are more understandable - better framework for demand side management - shortening the switching process Hourly (or half hourly or ¼ hourly) energy metering is obligatory for some group of retail customers in half of the respondent countries. Basically the requirement concerns mainly the large energy users. The customer s metering requirement may be related to customer s circuit breaker or fuse size, the voltage level the customer is connected to, the customer s annual consumption or peak load. One fourth of the respondent countries have plans of making hourly metering obligatory for all or most small customers. Databases Only in two of the respondent countries, the meter reading data is sent to a database accessible to other market participants.

28 Other duties In four countries, carrying out the balance settlement is suppliers responsibility. In the other countries, it is mostly performed by DSOs and TSOs. In order to define the customer service duties of the DSOs, the regulators were asked the responsible party for some duties that commonly belong to the DSO. The results of these questions are presented in table 3.8. Table 3.8 Division of some basic duties. DSO Supplier Other Advice for customers wishing to connect to distribution network 14-2 Contracting on network connection Reception of reports of disturbances and faults in electricity supply 13-3 The answers reveal that the DSOs role is, in certain duties, visible to the customers regardless of the market model. Contracting on network connection is in all countries DSOs duty. Also, the DSOs are in most countries responsible for giving advice for customers wishing to connect to distribution network. In one country, the TSO and the regulator are responsible for this duty. In most countries, the customers inform directly the DSO of disturbances in electricity supply. In three countries, disturbances and faults in electricity supply are reported to the regulator and in one of these three countries also to the TSO Environmental issues In order to support renewable power generation and more efficient use of energy, support schemes exist in many European countries. Table 3.9 gives information about whether these kinds of support schemes, or public service obligations (PSOs), are visible to the customers as a component in the electricity invoice, and who is responsible for charging these fees.

29 28 Table 3.9 Invoicing of environmental components. Not included in invoice DSO Supplier Other Renewables PSO fee Low CO2 PSO fee Energy efficiency PSO fee All or some of the environmental components mentioned in table 3.9, may also be combined into one component. In four of the six countries, where the supplier is responsible for charging the renewables PSO fee, it is always the supplier who charges all electricity costs (supply and network service) from the customers. Also, in three of the four countries, where the supplier charges the low CO2 PSO fee, the supplier is always in charge for invoicing all electricity costs. The Energy efficiency PSO fee is included in the invoice only in Denmark, where the DSO charges it. Energy efficiency The suppliers are responsible for giving end-customers advice on energy efficiency in six countries and DSOs in two. In most of the other respondent countries, the regulation does not assign this responsibility specifically to anyone. In one country, the duty is shared by the suppliers and the DSOs. In another, there is a special institution which is responsible for the duty. Distributed generation In nearly all respondent countries, the DSOs have an obligation to connect distributed generation into their network. In six countries, the generator must find the buyer for the production oneself, since no one has an obligation to buy the electricity. In five countries, DSOs have obligations to buy electricity from distributed generators. A condition for applying the obligation may be that the electricity is generated from renewable sources or high efficiency CHP. In the other respondent countries, buying electricity from distributed generators is mainly responsibility of the transmission system operators and, in some cases, suppliers. Table 3.10 gives a summary about obligations regarding distributed generation.

30 29 Table 3.10 Obligations concerning distributed generation. Yes No DSOs have obligations to connect distributed generation to their network 14 1 There are obligations to buy electricity from distributed generators 9 6

31 30 4 Division of tasks in some European countries This chapter examines the division of tasks in the Nordic countries, Germany and United Kingdom. Of these countries, in Germany and United Kingdom the supplier centric market model is applied whereas the Nordic countries apply the other model in which the suppliers and DSOs both manage their contracts with electricity end-users. All markets have had some new entry but the market shares of independent suppliers are mostly small. In UK, 14 small energy suppliers have entered the market, but only four remain in The combined market share of the independent suppliers is less than 0.3 per cent (Ofgem 2008a). None of the individual independent suppliers in Finland, Sweden or Norway hold a market share of over 5 per cent. In general, the number of suppliers has rather decreased than increased since market opening. For example, in Sweden there were 220 suppliers in 1996 and only 125 in Also, in Finland, there were 116 suppliers in 1997 and little over 70 remained in The decreases are mainly due to mergers and acquisitions. (EI 2008; NordREG 2007) 4.1 Market opening Norway was one of the few countries were the customers needed to react to the market opening. Being forced to choose the supplier at the market opening may have positively affected the switching activity. Customer actions were not required in the other Nordic countries or in UK and Germany. Norway is the only country, where suppliers have no obligations to sell electricity to small customers. In Norway, the DSO acts as the supplier of last resort and default supplier for customers that have not chosen their supplier. The determination of obliged supplier and the application terms of supply obligation are presented in table 4.1.

32 31 Table 4.1 Supply obligations. Country Determination of obliged supplier Application of supply obligation Denmark In practice local supplier, but suppliers had Always when the customer wants to to apply for an "obligation to supply" licence. Finland Supplier with the majority of customers in a Always when the customer wants to network area Germany Supplier with the majority of customers in a network area Always when the customer wants to or through implied action of the customer (using electricity without any other contract) Norway DSO as of last resort/default supplier When the customer has not chosen a supplier or if the supplier goes out of business Sweden Default supplier appointed by the DSO is When the customer has not chosen a supplier obligated to supply United Kingdom Requirement for all suppliers to sell electricity to domestic (household) customers as part of their license conditions Always when the customer wants to The prices within supply obligations are public information in all countries except in UK. The prices are regulated only in Denmark and Norway. The suppliers marketing activities can have a large impact on switching rates. In the UK, the suppliers have actively acquired new customers and the doorstep selling has been one of the most important ways to attract new customers (Ofgem 2008a). An interesting characteristic for the British retail energy markets is the existence of dual fuel contracts that combine the electricity and gas supply. In 2007, about 90 per cent of switches were done so that the customer was buying electricity and gas from the same supplier (if customers who do not have access to gas grid are excluded). Only about 28 per cent of customers buy electricity and gas from separate suppliers. These are mostly customers that have never switched their electricity or gas supplier. Another 16 per cent have no access to gas supply. (Ofgem 2008a)

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