Transition to the free electricity and gas market: everything you need to know to make the right choice

With the end of the conditions of greater protection millions of so-called non-vulnerable users have been called and will continue to be called to make a choice regarding domestic supplies.

For this process, which began last January with the cessation of the protected gas market and will continue with the deadline of 1 July 2024 relating to the end of greater protection for electricity, the Energy Regulatory Authority, Networks and Environment (ARERA) has envisaged two distinct processes for electricity and gas supplies.

The transition to the free market and to the new contractual conditions guaranteed by full price competition, in fact, does not happen automatically and is not mandatory. However, not making a choice could lead non-vulnerable customers to face increased bills.

In order not to be caught unprepared, it is therefore important to know in detail how the free market works and what the end of the enhanced protection service actually entails for non-vulnerable customers.

Free market: what it is and why it is convenient

The free market is a regime in which consumers have the right to decide which company to purchase electricity and gas from, independently evaluating the offer they consider most advantageous.

Unlike the protected service, in fact, the methods for establishing the cost of the energy component are not determined by ARERA, but by the individual companies, which take into account the principles of competitiveness.

Offering consumers the maximum guarantee of transparency is the code of commercial conduct: a set of rules sanctioned by the Authority which oblige all companies involved in the sale of household supplies to act fairly.

The companies must in fact provide end consumers with all the necessary information regarding prices, clauses and tariff changes both for the stipulation of new offers and for the modification of existing contracts, in compliance with the competition principles of the so-called Consumer Code.

Luce: what will happen with the end of the protected market?

As already announced in recent months by ARERA, a specific process is expected to be started for all consumers who, in conjunction with the expiry of the enhanced protection services, do not appear to have subscribed to an offer on the free market.

In particular, for end customers of electricity contracts still under protection, starting from 1 July 2024, the transfer to the so-called Gradual Protection Service is expected, which aims to progressively accompany them in the transition to the free market.

This process will ensure that non-vulnerable customers will be automatically assigned to a supplier company on the basis of a tender, the criteria for which have been established by ARERA. In fact, last January 10th, an auction was held in which 20 suppliers participated to try to win one or more of the 26 distinct areas into which the Italian territory was divided.

Consequently, on the basis of this distribution, upon expiry of the deadline for the enhanced protection services, consumers who have not signed up to an electricity contract on the free market will automatically be entrusted to the company that was awarded their lot and subjected to a new contractual situation similar to that of the PLACET offers.

The contractual and economic conditions of these tariffs will be the same in all 26 zones and will be established directly by ARERA, also taking into account the outcome of the auction last January 10th.

Things change for the category of vulnerable customers, i.e. those who are over the age of 75 or who find themselves in particular disadvantaged conditions, such as bonus recipients, people with disabilities, those assigned to emergency homes, residents on smaller islands and customers whose supply guarantees the functioning of life-saving medical devices: for this category of users, regulated economic conditions are envisaged, again established by the Authority.

Gas: what has changed for those who have not switched to the free market?

A different process is the one which, starting from last January 1st 2024, has instead affected non-vulnerable customers, for the gas service, who still fall under the protection regime.

In this case, users who have not yet switched to the free market have seen the economic and contractual conditions of their supply redefined by the old sellers. The model referred to is once again that of PLACET offers, with a price that includes a component due to procurement costs, one deriving from retail marketing and a fixed quota established by the seller, under the supervision of ARERA.

Also in this case, a different path was provided for vulnerable customers, who, in the absence of an option on the free market, automatically switched to the so-called vulnerability protection service.

How to move to the free market

The two processes envisaged by ARERA following the termination of the enhanced protection service could lead non-vulnerable customers to be faced with higher tariffs than those that characterized the old supply contracts.

In any case, to have full control of the situation and reduce costs on your bill, simply switch to the free market at any time, through a simple and quick procedure.

The new company is responsible for communicating the closure of the existing contract to the old supplier directly, taking care of all the bureaucratic aspects inherent to the switching and withdrawal procedures.

Naturally, the transition to the free market is carried out without any intervention on the electricity, gas or meter networks and without any interruptions to supplies. Furthermore, by joining the free market there are no penalties or contractual constraints and, by opting for a digital energy company, it is also possible to carry out the stipulation phase online.

The choice of offer, in any case, must take into account specific consumption needs, evaluating the impact of each contractual condition and observing which suppliers can guarantee interesting savings opportunities.

In this regard, it is worth remembering that it is currently possible to find offers on the free market with dedicated discounts for those arriving from the greater protection service. As far as tariffs are concerned, however, the so-called indexed price offers are currently quite interesting.

In this case, the cost of energy varies periodically, based on the value of the PUN (National Single Price) index, as regards electricity, and the PSV (Virtual Exchange Point), as regards gas. These parameters indicate the average price of electricity and gas on the relevant wholesale market.

Opting for an indexed price tariff therefore allows you to try to take advantage of bills with lower costs, taking advantage of any downward declines in PUN and PSV.

Finally, during the evaluation phase it may be important to examine any additional services present in the offer: the majority of suppliers active on the free market, in fact, make useful resources available – such as apps, loyalty programs and monitoring platforms – with to further optimize customer user experience.

Free gas and electricity market: what advantages with Sorgenia

On the free market it is possible to have a wide variety of choices, which is why it is important to make a fully informed decision, taking into account the energy needs of your home as well as your specific personal needs.

In any case, the advice is to make the transition to the free market by opting for a single supplier: dual fuel offers, in fact, generally have even more competitive rates and allow you to benefit from optimized management of domestic users.

Currently, among the most interesting opportunities of the moment it is possible to include Next Energy Sunlight Luce&Gas by Sorgenia, the first Italian digital energy company on the free market.

This is an indexed price offer, also available in a bundle with optical fibre, which allows you to benefit from electricity coming from 100% renewable sources. All with the opportunity to take advantage of a loyalty discount on the commercial service: a discount that progressively increases with the passage of time spent in Sorgenia.

Furthermore, with Next Energy Sunlight Luce&Gas it is possible to access Beyond Energy, an innovative monitoring platform, available without installing any device, which offers detailed analyzes through algorithms based on artificial intelligence, providing a series of personalized recommendations that help to save.

Always with the aim of promoting greater sensitivity towards environmental issues, Sorgenia offers the opportunity to all subscribers to its offers to sign up to Greeners. It is a community in which each participant is asked to carry out sustainable missions to earn special points – the so-called green coins – which can then be converted into eco-friendly prizes or in support of solidarity missions or aimed at safeguarding the Planet.

Opting for the right electricity and gas offer therefore allows you to cut costs on your bill, take advantage of many other interesting advantages and switch to the free market without stress, always keeping everything under control.