Romanian consumer protection agency fines energy provider Enel 1% of turnover
Romania’s consumer protection agency ANPC fined energy provider Enel 1% of its turnover, or EUR 10.4 million, for billing customers' energy consumption at a higher price than that established by law.
The fine imposed on Enel is the largest on an energy provider in Romania.
ANPC inspectors established that the monthly billing of electric energy consumption starting from February 2023 does not comply with the current legislation. It was done at a final price of electric energy of more than RON 0.80/kWh, VAT included, in cases where monthly consumption fell between 93 kWh and 100 kWh. The correct price should be a maximum of RON 0.68/kWh. The monthly billing of energy consumption at other levels similarly did not comply with current legislation.
The billing method has been used in the invoices for electric energy consumption starting from January 1, 2023, and is still in effect, ANPC representatives said in a statement cited by HotNews. Up to 44,000 Romanian residential consumers have been directly affected by the faulty calculation of bills carried out by the economic operator from the beginning of the year until the present.
ANPC states that considering the aggravating circumstances discovered during the control action and the fact that the economic operator has taken no steps in favor of the consumers, the company Enel Energie SA must be penalized in accordance with the law. The penalty is a fine of 1% of the economic operator's annual turnover from the financial year preceding the sanction.
Paul Anghel, the director-general of the authority, mentioned that this all started with complaints from some customers, and the control action was subsequently extended to all Enel consumers.
"At the moment, we are evaluating the existence of similar situations at other companies in the liberalized market, and, of course, if the situations require it, identical measures will be applied," Anghel said.
The energy provider has reacted to the fine, saying that the company made significant and sustained efforts over the past two years to implement nearly 20 changes to the customer billing system in order to comply with repeated primary and secondary legislative changes in the energy sector.
“Since the legislation we refer to, as it was adopted, does not cover all the situations that arise in the energy supply activity and the consumption characteristics of all customers, we have repeatedly requested clarifications and engaged in discussions with the authorities that coordinate and regulate our field of activity. As a result of these discussions, the representatives of the relevant institutions in the field of electricity supply have accepted the methods of applying the legislation in certain rare situations not expressly provided for by law,” the company says.
The press release also states that for customers who have meter readings or self-meter readings within the billing period, current legal provisions require the use of a daily consumption average for the period for which there is no reading to determine the total consumption. In the case of February, which has a lower number of days, this average is higher than in other months, which has led to a small number of customers moving into the next consumption tier.
“In many cases where there were doubts about the meter reading, we canceled the bills and applied provisions that were favorable to the customers. These situations, despite their extremely low frequency, have arisen as a result of the application of legal regulations, and the relevant institutions in our field of activity have not raised any issues that contradict these regulations,” Enel representatives say.
Enel’s press release also stresses that the company reserves the right to defend itself in the legal system against any abusive interpretation of legal provisions.
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