Bills in chaos; the protected market cheaper than the free one

The protected energy market is more convenient than the free one. This was said yesterday by Stefano Besseghini, President of the Regulatory Authority for Energy, Networks and the Environment (Arera), during a hearing in the Productive Activities Committee of the Chamber. Reciting the data, it came to light that the free market was convenient until the first quarter of 2023, after which the price of greater protection became significantly more convenient again. In detail, the average price, especially for the energy component, has started to rise again since the beginning of the year, while the price of the greater protection has remained in marked decline, with the value of the energy component practically halving in the transition from the first to the second trimester and from the second to the third trimester. The decline in the energy component in the protection service was then interrupted in the fourth quarter, when it rose from 14.42 to 16.81 €c/kWh, however remaining at levels significantly lower than those of the free market. For domestic customers, Arera therefore estimated that the average price in the second half of 2023 was 39.19 €c/kWh compared to 28.11 €c/kWh on the protected market. A difference largely due to the cost of energy which in the free market stood at 25.40 c€/kWh compared to 15.49 on the protected market. Lower costs were also recorded for the items “taxes” and “network”. The only point in favor of the free market appears to be the system costs (3.8 against 4.32). Shifting attention to 2024 the situation does not change. In fact, Arera estimates that the unit expense will stand at a value of 38.9 €c/kWh for the free market. While for those who are still in the greater protection service of 33 c€/kWh. Looking in detail at the energy item alone, we discover that the differential is 27 €c/kWh in the free market and 22 €c/kWh in the greater protection market.

Given the data, one might be tempted to want to return to the protected market. The option is possible. In fact, you have until June 30, 2024 to apply. To find out which operator to contact, Arera has made an ad hoc page available on its website, which will be further developed in the coming days, to be able to find your reference operator based on the municipality where you live.

Gradual protections vs protected market

Another topic addressed at the hearing was the gradual protection system which will start on 1 July 2024. This will be intended for all those people who have not chosen a free market operator and will last three years. As regards the price, this market appears to be the most convenient, given that the operators have made very low offers to grab as many customers as possible. According to the Arera report, non-vulnerable domestic customers in the gradual protection service will have an overall saving for each withdrawal point of approximately 130 euros per year compared to vulnerable domestic customers who will remain in the greater protection service. At the moment it is not possible to transfer from protection to the gradual protection service. However, Arera explained that if the government wanted to intervene it would have to limit the passage, given that the automatic transmission of the vulnerable in its entirety onto the gradual protection market would not be sustainable for operators.