Italy’s Competition Watchdog Slaps Fines on Energy Providers
Italy’s competition watchdog has imposed fines totaling over 15 million euros ($16.3 million) on six energy providers. The companies were found guilty of enticing consumers to accept higher prices, disregarding a government ban on unilateral price increases for gas and electricity.
Violating Government Directives
Maximum Fine for Enel Energia
Enel Energia will bear the brunt of the penalties with a hefty fine of EUR10 million. Eni Plenitude follows closely behind with a 5 million euro fine. Eni Plenitude allegedly failed to notify more than four million customers before raising prices.
Penalties for Lack of Notice
Acea Energia was fined EUR560,000, while Dolomiti Energia faced a penalty of EUR50,000. Both companies were penalized for not providing customers with the required 90-day notice before implementing price changes.
Spanish Company Faces a Lighter Penalty
The Italian unit of Spanish company Iberdola received a relatively lighter fine of EUR25,000. The regulator accused the company of resorting to unfair contract changes and threatening to disconnect customers who refused to accept them.
Edison Energia’s Minimum Penalty
Edison Energia will pay the minimum penalty of EUR5,000 since they raised prices earlier than permitted but later reimbursed affected customers. The regulator emphasized that this action only impacted a marginal number of customers.
Responses from the Companies Involved
Eni Plenitude defended its actions, expressing confidence in the legality of its stance. It also reserved the right to challenge the decision, according to a spokesperson.
Dolomiti Energia also maintained its innocence, assuring The Wall Street Journal that it always acted appropriately. They highlighted their decision to retract proposed contractual changes, which eliminated any negative consequences for customers.
Enel reiterated that it merely extended expiring economic conditions for customers in accordance with the contract terms. The company is confident it can vindicate its actions and is open to pursuing legal avenues if necessary.
No Comment from Edison and Acea Energia
Edison declined to comment on the matter, while Acea Energia did not respond to requests for comment at this time.