CONSUMER LAW – The ICA fines six energy operators for aggressive commercial practices 

Newsletter n. 91 – December 2023

CONSUMER LAW

The ICA fines six energy operators for aggressive commercial practices

On 31 October 2023, the Italian Competition Authority (ICA) concluded proceedings PS12450PS12453PS12458PS12460PS12461PS12462 against Enel Energia, Eni Plenitude, Acea Energia, Iberdrola Clienti Italia, Dolomiti Energia and Edison Energia (the “Energy Operators”) and imposed fines of more than 15 million Euro in total. The ICA found that the Energy Operators engaged in aggressive commercial practices, conditioning consumers to accept upward changes in electricity and gas prices in breach of Article 3 of Law Decree No. 115 of 9 August 2022 (“Aiuti bis Decree”). Indeed, while said provision prohibited unilateral price increases for the supply of electricity and gas from 10 August 2022 to 30 June 2023, the Energy Operators sent letters to consumers in order to induce them to accept increases in electricity and gas prices during that same mentioned period, resulting in significant bill increases. Specifically, Enel and Eni – which were fined respectively 10 million Euro and 5 million Euro – unilaterally changed supply prices to more than 4 million consumers based on contractual clauses that allowed the companies themselves to decide at their own discretion whether and when to change rates once the prices of the chosen offers expired. As for the other Energy Operators, the fines were lower in light of the less aggressive mechanisms adopted in the aforementioned communications, which were nevertheless deemed contrary to the applicable law.