INSIGHT_E has recently (May 2015) published a policy report titled “Energy poverty and vulnerable consumers in the energy sector across the EU” which provides a comprehensive analysis of policies and measures across the 28 EU Member States titles . This report is based on bilateral discussions with energy poverty stakeholders (academics, government or public administration officials, various practitioners) across the Member States. The key findings include:
Key findings: definitions
- Definitions used for vulnerable consumers vary significantly across Member States, reflecting differences in problem identification and in approaches to action.
- Less than a third of Member States explicitly recognise concepts of energy poverty. Those that do see it as a linked yet distinctive problem from vulnerable consumer protection.
Key findings: measures
- Financial interventions are a crucial means of short-term protection for vulnerable consumers. Many Member States use the social welfare system to both identify recipients of support and distribute payments. Enhanced targeting of energy-poor needs to be balanced against administrative complexity.
- Additional consumer protection measures focus on vulnerable consumer protection, and are dominated by disconnection protection. This category also has a diverse set of measures, primarily coordinated by regulators and energy supply companies. Many measures e.g. billing information, codes of conduct, debt protection are often most prevalent in strongly liberalised markets.
- Energy efficiency measures, particularly those focusing on building retrofit, are a key part of a strategy to address energy poverty. There is considerable scope for increased targeting of such measures, although this requires an understanding of which are the energypoor households. There are a wide range of approaches to implementation e.g. funding source, extent of targeting, implementing body. Such factors need to be considered in view of national circumstances. There are already well understood barriers to energy efficiency measures. Strong incentives for take-up in low income households are needed, and designed to promote awareness and key benefits.
- Information provision, including measures relating to price comparison and transparent billing, are often found in Member States with the most liberalised markets. Where there is a strong civic society movement in relation to energy or fuel poverty, the number of awareness campaigns is higher. Greater awareness of energy poverty and how to tackle it could come through the greater use of smart metering.
For the entire report please click here.