Maximumprijzen, een verstoring van de vrije markt?
Door Tim Vermeir
Ergeg, de groep van Europese energieregulatoren, heeft zich in zijn position paper van 18 juli 2007 on end-user price regulation zeer duidelijk afgezet tegen de invoering van maximumprijzen op retailniveau.
A fully open market with well functioning competition cannot in the long term coexist with regulated end-user energy prices. Price regulation hinders the goal of customer protection and participation through competition by distorting the functioning of the market:
- If regulated end-user prices are not in line with wholesale market conditions, suppliers without significant low cost generation capacities or equivalent long term contract will not be able to make competitive offers which cover their supply costs. Consequently, with a limited number of suppliers, there will be no development of wholesale markets. Liquidity will remain at a low level. As a result, neither the wholesale nor retail markets will be competitive.
- Regulated prices limit the possibilities and incentives of customers to switch supplier and thereby limit competition in the market. If customers benefit from artificially low regulated prices there will be no incentive to switch supplier.
- The lack of competition on retail markets hampers the customers’ position. It is through exercising their right to choose that customers stimulate retail competition between suppliers. Competitive pricing on the retail side is an important driver for market integration.