Author: Pernille Manicus
The energy prices are skyrocketing, and it is saving times for everyone; both private, business and the public sector. There is a lot of talk about energy efficiency and good saving advice, and yes, it is indeed a good idea to turn off the lights after you, take shorter baths (or taking showers together, as suggested by the Swiss Environmental Minister) and find out about today’s electricity prices. But it can also be a good idea to start by looking at your agreement with your electricity supplier. Have you checked it lately?
Liberalization of the electricity market
In 2003, the electricity market was opened so that it was possible for consumers to choose their own electricity supplier. This happened on the basis of the EU’s electricity liberalization directive from 1996. The directive was implemented in Denmark in connection with the electricity reform in 1999. The liberalization of the electricity market happened gradually, and the electricity market opened completely from 1 January 2003.
Before liberalization, the electricity companies owned all parts of the electricity value chain, from generation to transmission to the final distribution of electricity to end users: the customers. After liberalization, the value chain was split into several parts. This meant, among other things, that the electricity companies were no longer rooted in the local community, where they had monopoly status. But now they had to compete for customers and prices – both locally, nationally and all the way up to European level.
The power was placed on the consumers, and the electricity companies changed their nature from being electricity companies to being energy companies – they became commercial, and now had to promote themselves through consultancy, activities and other commercial products.
The conscious consumer
The competition for customers can be tough, and it hasn’t gotten any easier over the years. Consumers are becoming more and more aware that their choices have consequences. But for consumers, it can also be difficult to see which things must be taken into account when you want to change an electricity supplier – and there are some things that you, as a consumer, must consider and know before you change the electricity supplier.
First of all, it is free to change electricity supplier – and remember that the price you pay for kWh also includes VAT and taxes to the state. VAT is usually around 20% (country dependent) – you can see the applicable tax rate on the Danish Ministry of Taxation’s website under the Electricity Tax Act or equivalent source for those of you who are reading from abroad.
Next, you need to make up your mind whether it matters where your electricity comes from. You cannot choose that your electricity should come from a particular wind turbine, but you can choose an energy company that buys power from renewable energy sources or that otherwise invests in or contributes to a greener society.
Check the market and switch at www.elpris.dk
There are many electricity suppliers to choose from, and it can seem like stepping into a jungle when you want to investigate the possibility of changing electricity supplier.
The Danish Supply Authority has created a website, www.elpris.dk, where you can see the options you have on the electricity market. There are also many other websites where you can get an overview, but here there may be advertising revenue involved in the display of the electricity suppliers. The overview on www.elpris.dk is unbiased. Be aware that the electricity suppliers themselves are responsible for updating the price and data on the page.
When you go to www.elpris.dk, you can enter your postcode and state which type of home you have and then get calculations based on that. When it has been calculated and you are shown the list of electricity suppliers, you have several parameters that you must decide on: climate selection, binding period, price type and subscription.
The climate choice is about how green a choice you want to make. Binding period is if you as a consumer enter into a binding agreement for delivery for a number of months (the binding period can only be a maximum of six months). Subscription is, yes, if the electricity supplier delivers electricity on a subscription scheme. The price type can be chosen to be variable or fixed.
- Fixed price means that the electricity supplier sets a price per kWh for a period of at least three consecutive months, after which the price is adjusted again. By choosing a fixed price, you know your electricity price for the applicable period. It may be a more expensive option, but in these times of volatility it secures a fixed (and easier to plan) expense.
- Variable price for your electricity means that the electricity price changes continuously according to a well-defined electricity exchange – the price is valid for a period of less than three months. A well-defined electricity exchange means that there is a daily listing of the electricity price, which is determined by supply and demand.
- Semi-fixed price (outside of Denmark) is where you are charged a fixed price split in 3 (or more) price levels. That means, during the night and at week-ends, when demand is low, the price will be low (but always the agreed number), during working hours it will be a bit higher and in peak hours it would be the highest.
It takes time to familiarize yourself with the electricity market, the various electricity suppliers as well as the differences in the agreements, prices, conditions, etc. If you don’t have the time, there are several companies that offer handling of the choice of electricity agreement and electricity supplier. Here you pay for a subscription with the company, and then they take care of switching to what, according to the company, is the best and cheapest electricity contract for you.