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EnergyMin Popescu: After Jan 15 gov't to alter energy law

The Government will modify the electricity and natural gas law after January 15, Energy Minister Virgil Popescu said on Tuesday, to establish exactly how the liberalization of the market will take place.

"They have a regulated customer base of 6 million for which they never paid. So this is obvious, when the privatisation was done, the distributions took over the electricity distributions, but not the customers. They automatically took over this database, they took over the customers, who were not theirs, and now they use them to monopolize the market. But this cannot be. One can't have a monopoly of 6 million clients to just manage them the way one wants and if one says tomorrow there will be a competitive regime, takes them first through the universal service, which is also more expensive: for they established that it will be 26pct more expensive, by 15pct at some providers and by 20pct at others, and I only leave these 6 million to opt, in two or three months. It is very little time, they will not move. I am referring to the decision of ANRE [National Energy Regulatory Authority]. One month or two or three is not enough time. That is not the solution," mentioned Virgil Popescu at Digi24.

The energy minister underlined that after January 15, the Government will act by modifying the law on electricity and natural gas in order to establish clearly how this liberalization process will unfold.

"I had a discussion with ANRE today, I also had a discussion with the Competition Council. I let ANRE think again, but I stated that after January 15, the Government we will act by modifying the law on electricity and natural gas to establish clearly how we do this liberalization. So, if ANRE, which is according to the law and according to the European directives, the one that has to regulate this liberalization, cannot do it (...) We will offer people [the possibility] to enter directly on the best price, the cheaper of the current supplier and, if it does not suit them, they can change, but they do not take them automatically to the universal service which is the most expensive," explained Virgil Popescu.

He added that on the current ANRE order, this option must be made by January 31, but on Tuesday they discussed extending it until March 31, under the same conditions.

The electricity market was completely liberalized on January 1, 2021. Starting with this date, consumers who were until now in a regulated regime and kept the current agreement risked paying higher prices by 13-26pct.

ANRE announced that it extends until March 31, 2021, the period in which household consumers can conclude supply contracts on the regulated market, and suppliers have agreed to this proposal.