Lawmakers on Tuesday discussed a bill that would make it harder for electricity consumers to switch suppliers if they have not first settled all their dues with their current supplier.
Under the legislative proposal, consumers wanting to switch suppliers would need to provide proof that they have fully settled their arrears with their prior supplier before being allowed to sign a new contract.
An official with the Cyprus Energy Regulatory Authority said they would assent to the proposed change, but only if does not clash with EU law on the rights of consumers.
The various governmental agencies will come back with their own suggestions, so that they’re incorporated into a final draft of the bill, to be revisited after the Easter holiday.
Speaking to the media later, Akel MP Costas Costa said the aim is to set up a system “without distortions and gaps, so that we get this right, to avoid creating problems for the Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC) and other energy suppliers, or for consumers.”
Costa referred to media reports that large customers – corporations – have left the EAC for new suppliers, as part of the transition to the open electricity market.
Citing these reports, he said these departing customers owe the EAC several millions, creating a cash-flow problem for the state-run power utility.
The electricity market in Cyprus is currently in a transition phase on the path toward full liberalisation.
Earlier this month, EAC spokesperson Christina Papadopoulou said a number of customers had switched supplier, leaving the EAC with unpaid invoices.
The EAC was initiating legal action to recoup its money.
It’s understood that the customers who left the EAC are large commercial enterprises and industrial concerns – not domestic consumers.
Papadopoulou said action is needed to crack down on so-called ‘energy tourists’ who hop from one supplier to another, each time leaving their bills unpaid.
The EAC proposes that when customers apply for release from their previous/current supplier, they must furnish documentation that they have settled all arrears or have come to a repayment arrangement.
Once the electricity market fully opens up, any customer – domestic or commercial – will be able to leave the EAC.
Right now, in the transitional phase, a customer can likewise switch suppliers, but to do so they must have a smart metre installed. The smart metre is of the Stod (Seasonal Time of Day) type, which records electricity consumption every half hour.
In addition to the EAC, currently there are six licensed private suppliers: Bioland Promithia Ltd; Evergy Ltd; Petrolina Electric Ltd; Abio Power; Energy & Beyond Ltd; and Synenergia Ltd.