Advertisement

Energy For Members

Why you may need to switch your Italian energy supplier by 2024

Clare Speak
Clare Speak - [email protected]
Why you may need to switch your Italian energy supplier by 2024
The way Italy's energy market is regulated is changing, and this means some customers will need to move to a new contract or supplier. Photo by Ida Marie ODGAARD / Ritzau SCANPIX / AFP

New rules mean many Italian households will need to change to a different utility company by January 2024. What exactly is changing and who will it affect?

Advertisement

You may have seen Italian news reports recently about a planned change to Italy’s utility provider system which means many customers will soon have to switch.

And, as anyone who has signed up for Italian gas and electricity supplies will know, Italy has complex rules around how energy providers operate.

So it's not surprising that several readers have recently contacted The Local to say that, even though they speak Italian well, they're struggling to understand what the upcoming change means for them and how to switch from to another supplier.

What’s changing and why?

Rules aimed at simplifying Italy's energy market come into force from early next year. This is aimed at making the Italian energy market simpler (and hopefully more competitively priced) for customers, but for now it means some will need to move to a new supplier.

At the moment, there are two options for energy customers in Italy:

You can sign up to an energy tariff with state-controlled rates set by the Italian national energy regulator Arera under what’s called the mercato tutelato, or ‘protected’ market.

Or you can sign up for a contract with a private supplier (under the mercato libero or ‘free’ market), who set their own rates and have more freedom to offer discounts and promotions. This is the system most of Italy’s international residents will probably be familiar with from their home countries.

READ ALSO: When can you turn your heating on in Italy this winter?

The ‘protected’ market option is now being phased out under laws aimed at increasing market liberalisation in Italy, where many economic sectors are still heavily state-regulated. 

Liberalisation only began here in 1999 - much later than in many other European countries - and the protected market is now being abolished under the Ddl Concorrenza (Competition Bill), a law passed in 2017.

Advertisement

Who needs to switch provider and when?

The majority of households in Italy today are already on a ‘free market’ contract, so they won’t need to do anything. But there are roughly 15 million households on protected contracts who will have to switch.

If you’re unsure which type of contract you’re on, check the wording on your gas or electricity bill. Every supplier is required to include the wording 'Mercato libero dell’energia' or  'Servizio di Maggior Tutela', and you should find this near the top of your bill.

If you’re already on a mercato libero tariff, you don’t need to do anything.

For those on a protected rate, the deadline for switching gas providers is January 10th, 2024, and for electricity, it’s expected to be April 1st, 2024.

Advertisement

The original deadline was set for January 2023, and there is speculation in Italian media that the government may push it back by another six or 12 months, at least for customers who are considered ‘vulnerable’ (including those on low incomes, aged over 75, or with serious illnesses.)

But as things stand, it's likely a good idea to start looking at potential new providers.

How do I find the best provider and make the switch?

The larger private energy suppliers operating in Italy, such as Enel and E.on, all currently offer both ‘protected’ and ‘free market’ contract options, so your first step might be speaking to your current provider about what sort of deal they can offer you.

If you keep an eye on your junk mail, you’re very likely to have received offers from your supplier and their competitors recently. If you decide to stay with the same supplier, this is probably the easiest option as they should be able to easily move you from a protected to free market contract.

READ ALSO: At what time of day is electricity cheapest in Italy?

There are numerous Italian energy price comparison websites allowing you to check the tariffs offered by different energy providers - try SOStariffe.it, Facile.it or Selectra.

When comparing prices and contract offers between free market providers, you’ll need to consider whether you want to opt for one with a variable rate, or one which fixes the rate you pay for electricity or gas for a certain amount of time - which means you’ll be protected from sudden price surges, but you’ll also miss out on the benefits of any price decreases during that period.

Advertisement

With electricity providers, you’ll want to be aware of contracts which set varying tariffs throughout the day. With these deals, you’ll have to decide whether you’d save money by subscribing to the ‘off-peak’ option, which means paying less when you use appliances during set hours, but paying more the rest of the time. See a more detailed explanation here.

Once you’ve found a suitable new supplier, you should be able to sign up via their website or by phone. If that proves complicated however, many have outlets you can visit in person. 

The switch is free, won't mean any interruption to your energy supply, and shouldn’t require an engineer to do anything with your electricity meter. You also won’t have to inform your previous energy supplier of the switch - the new supplier will handle that for you.

What happens if I miss the deadline?

If for any reason you haven’t made the switch by January 10th, this doesn’t mean your gas supply will suddenly be cut off.

Arera has said it will put a system in place from this date to identify those who haven’t switched and automatically assign them to a new provider on a tariff “as similar as possible” to their previous one.

These customers will still be able to switch to another supplier or contract at any time.

Please note that The Local is unable to advise on individual cases. For more information about how the upcoming changes will affect you, contact your Italian energy provider.

More

Comments

Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also