From November, Belgium's major electricity and gas regulators will adopt a standardised method for calculating the annual prices of variable-price electricity and natural gas contracts, which are expected to skyrocket in the following months.
To calculate the cost of variable contracts, the Wallonia, Brussels, and Federal electricity and gas regulators (CWaPE, BRUGEL, and CREG, respectively) will align with the Flemish regulator VREG's calculation method, which has been in place since May 2022.
This system takes into account the predicted prices for the following 12 months, which are quoted on the energy stock market for future deliveries. The change will bring stability to consumers, who have faced price estimates that vary wildly from month to month.
Since most energy suppliers have stopped offering fixed contracts, the regulators wanted the formula to provide consumers with "the most reliable ranking of suppliers' offers" in terms of variable contracts.
In the customer's interest
Belgium's main consumer protection organisation Test Achats has welcomed Wednesday's announcement, which it says will mean that "consumers will no longer face large price differences for the same contract, depending on the comparison site they use."
This follows a statement the organisation released last week in which it lamented that comparing and switching suppliers "was easy and could save a lot of money, but this has now become almost impossible."
As a result, Test Achats asked Federal Energy Minister Tinne Van Der Straeten to impose a standardised calculation method and to simplify how variable contract prices are calculated.
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In the end, it was the regulators who announced the standardised method on Wednesday. Test Achats stated that "consumers will no longer face large price differences for the same contract, depending on the comparator."
However, they are calling for more work to be done to simplify the methodology and also to take into account indexations to energy prices.