On October 26, the Government approved a regulation (Royal Decree-Law 23/2021) that includes a series of measures to provide greater transparency to energy supply prices and offers and thus protect electricity and gas consumers .
In response to queries from trading companies and consumers, the National Commission for Markets and Competition (CNMC) has drawn up a guide with recommendations for applying these measures:
Comparing supply offers, whether electricity or gas, is a very difficult task for a large part of the population. That is why the package of measures approved by the Government obliges marketers to publish "transparent, adequate and updated" information on the prices of all their offers.
In the same terms, the conditions of termination of the contracts and the information on additional services jointly contracted, such as the revision of the boiler (gas) or the maintenance of facilities (electricity) must be reflected.
This information, underlines the CNMC, must be in all the media by which offers are advertised, as well as on the website of the marketers. In addition, these companies must communicate their offers to the super-regulator so that they can be included in its price comparator.
The Royal Decree-law establishes that price reviews must be communicated one month in advance "in a transparent and understandable way". In addition, they have to include a comparison of prices before and after the review. The regulations also require an estimate to be made of the annual cost of supply for the consumer, and its comparison with that of the previous year.
The CNMC guide addresses how to carry out this comparison and annual cost estimate. It also dedicates a space to the case of contracts with very short-term revisions, for which it is not possible to communicate price updates with the required one month notice.
Marketers are obliged to inform consumers of their right to terminate the contract "without any cost or penalty" when they are notified of a change in the conditions. The CNMC recalls that the term for the user to exercise this right cannot be limited, because the law recognizes it as such.
The change of conditions of the agreement between marketer and client during its validity can only be done "if it is agreed in a specific, clear and transparent way".
The super regulator emphasizes that the changes from a fixed contract -with an agreed price for the entire period- to an indexed one -at the regulated rate or PVPC- suppose to modify the agreement between both parties. That is why the consumer has the right to terminate it at no cost, even if the contract stipulates this possibility "in a generic way".
The CNMC guide states that, when the marketer decides to terminate a contract in accordance with the agreed economic conditions, it should compensate the consumer with "at least the same penalty criteria agreed for the reverse case." That is, if it had been the user who broke the contract.