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CONSUMERS : LONDON HOSTS CITIZENS' ENERGY FORUM.

Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs, together with John Mogg, chair of the European Regulators Group for Electricity and Gas (ERGEG), attended the launch of a Citizens' Energy Forum in late October in London. Dubbed the London Forum, after the Florence Forum on electricity or the Madrid Forum on gas, the European Commission claims that the recurrent discussion point would help improve consumer rights by bring together national energy regulators, member states, the Commission, MEPs, consumer organisations and industry (energy industry and industrial consumers).

Explaing why the forum was established, ERGEG chair Mogg said it was naive to expect ordinary consumers to come to regulators. He sees the London Forum as being a voice for consumer associations as well as an "ear" for EU policy makers on issues that matter to energy consumers. Issues discussed included improving retail market performance for consumers, implementing existing consumer rights as well as protecting vulnerable consumers. Despite criticism in some quarters that energy liberalisation has failed consumers, Mogg insisted that it is the best way to "empower" consumers to participate in the market. "This is what lies at the heart of ERGEG's core work and of the third energy package proposals," said Mogg.

ERGEG is fiercely opposed to allowing consumers to stay with incumbent companies at regulated prices kept artificially low. According to ERGEG, this is a major obstacle to supplier switching. Consumers have little incentive to switch if they end up paying much higher prices. ERGEG notes, in its 2008 study of consumers, that in 15 countries, over 85% of electricity and 90% of gas household customers are still under regulated prices.

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Publication:Europe Environment
Date:Nov 13, 2008
Words:267
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