By Stephane Fouilleul
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A very difficult pill to swallow. On August 16, 2022, Silvia Fourkin you receive a message from your electricity provider ohm power. “As a result of the increase in electricity prices, we are forced to increase your monthly payments to avoid excessive regularization. Until then, the pensioner who lives with Yves, her husband, in Montfort-sur-Risle (Eure), near Pont Audemerhe is not really surprised, given the current economic situation marked by a general increase in energy costs, and the international context with the war in Ukraine.
Except the rest of the email isn’t far from knocking her out of her chair. It is written: “Old monthly payment €583.98. New monthly fee: €902.71. That’s an increase of more than 55%. The supplier specifies that the increase will be effective in the next direct debit in September.
sky-high electricity prices
For two years, Sylvie and Yves Fourcin chose to move into a large and beautiful residence. The couple acknowledges enjoying a comfortable economic situation. This increase will not weigh on your budget.
But I am thinking of people who have low incomes. Overnight, they are told that the price of electricity will double!
She and her husband do not understand the reasons for such a sharp and sudden increase in their bill. Highly encouraged, Sylvie Fourcin contacted her provider for further explanation. On August 19, she receives a new email. The supplier justifies this increase by “the energy market that is facing an exceptional and unprecedented situation. He explains that “electricity purchase prices for suppliers in particular have multiplied by ten in the last year, and by two in the month of June 2022 alone. This extreme situation has led Ohm Énergie to have to review its network fees”. Before concluding: “It is in a process of transparency and responsibility that we wanted to inform all our interested clients in advance. »
Please look elsewhere.
Even more surprising, at the end of the two emails sent on August 16 and 19, Ohm Énergie seems to encourage its customers to change supplier: “In accordance with article L224-10 of the Consumer Code, we remind you that you have the possibility to terminate your contract without penalty at any time within three months.” A strategy for the less surprising of the company. “In fact, if we terminate your contract, the start-up costs will be invoiced by your new provider. you risk a blackout if you don’t subscribe elsewhere. »
In the email dated August 19, the supplier sent two online links to the site of the national energy mediator (an independent public authority) to explain to the customer the procedure for changing supplier. We would like to get rid of a client that we would not otherwise. Last week we tried to contact Ohm Énergie management. Unsuccessfully. Only one of the operators answered us. He confirmed to us that his mission was to encourage his customers to switch providers.
Suppliers in financial difficulties
However, when Sylvie and Yves chose to settle in Montfort-sur-Risle two years ago, the former owner of their house had advised them to alternative electricity supplier to EDF. And even the couple was very satisfied: “The first year we had an 18% discount on the price per kilowatt hour (kWh). The following year it was 11%. Even if no discount was planned for 2022, the price was still cheaper than EDF,” Sylvie rejoiced.
In 2007, the opening of the electricity market to competition for individuals has seen the appearance of alternative providers to EDF that offer attractive prices. According to the Energy Regulation Commission (CRE)there are about fifty in 2022 such as Ohm Énergie, Cdiscount Énergie, Mint Énergie… Almost 12 million households (that is, 35%) have abandoned the protection electricity tariff regulated by EDF in the hope of paying less.
But faced with rising prices, these “small” providers no longer have the means to buy electricity and are forced to resell it at an exorbitant price or pressure their customers to terminate their contract. “We know that we have suppliers potentially in difficulty,” he warned on Wednesday, August 24 emmanuel wargonthe new president of the Energy Regulatory Commission, interviewed in RMC.
Suppliers such as Iberdrola and Mint Energie have clearly written to their clients to join EDF. This is also the choice of Sylvie and Yves Fourcin, who have just terminated their contract with Ohm Énergie. From now on, at EDF, your monthly payments will be around €390, adjusted every three months according to your electricity consumption.
“We are in a great energy crisis”
Contacted by us last week, Caroline Keller He mentioned the great difficulties that alternative electricity providers are currently encountering. Faced with the purchase price of electricity multiplied by seven in the space of one year, the head of the information and communication service of the Energy Ombudsman’s Office* points out that “of the thirty alternative providers that offered, the Half are no longer looking to hire new clients. »
Since the end of 2021, some providers have withdrawn from the market, such as E.Leclerc Energies and Oui Energy, or have been put into forced liquidation, such as Hydroption. Those who remain have announced to their clients a considerable increase in their prices or encourage them to terminate their contract. A company that expels its customers? The query method.
Suppliers tell us that electricity purchase prices are so high in the markets that they lose money by offering low bids.
In fact, most providers do not produce electricity. Therefore, they buy electricity from EDF or on the wholesale markets before reselling it to their customers. Problem, since the war in Ukraine, the price of a megawatt hour has skyrocketed on the wholesale markets, going from €42 (purchased at the regulated rate by EDF**) to almost €600 on the wholesale market.
The Aren device
Suppliers are entitled to purchase a certain percentage of electricity at low cost from EDF. This is called the Arenh device (regulated access to historical nuclear electricity). They can buy up to 120 terawatt hours at a price of €42 per megawatt hour. But this nuclear “low” price is not enough to serve all its customers. Therefore, “up to 50% on the wholesale market” must be provided, as Jacques Percebois recalled, in an article published in Ouest France, on August 25.
Beware of speculation!
However, according to consumer associations such as the Consumer Housing Framework of Life (CLCV) and UFC Que Choisir, some providers may be tempted to buy a little more low-cost nuclear electricity from EDF than they need (via the Arenh device). . By pressuring its customers to announce large price increases, the supplier could resell its excess electricity, obtained at low prices, much more expensive in wholesale markets, and thus achieve good commercial margins. Because prices have multiplied by seven in the space of a year in the markets. Last week, the Ministry of Energy Transition announced that it would be vigilant if suppliers were suspected of speculating in the markets.
A call to vigilance
Given the rise in electricity prices, consumer associations recommend that customers adhere to the regulated rate offered by EDF. “It is the only uncorrelated provider in the market. It only increased by 4%”, he confided to us. Raphael Bartlome, legal manager of the association UFC Que Choisir. It also wants to alert individuals: “If you receive a message from a provider that promises a cheaper offer than the EDF regulated rate, it smells like a scam. It is a speech that is not financially credible. You have to check your emails from providers who would make offers on energy sobriety. No supplier can currently offer a price lower than the regulated price. »
* The National Energy Defender is an independent public authority appointed by the Ministry in charge of Energy for a period of six years. His mandate is irrevocable. His main mission is to support consumers who are facing disputes with their energy provider and to find an amicable solution between the two parties.
**EDF applies the regulated sales rate (TRV). It is supposed to guarantee consumers a more stable cost of electricity than market prices. In 2022, thanks to the implementation of the tariff shield by the government, its increase was thus limited to 4%.
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