Belgians overwhelmingly support forcing energy companies to offer fixed-rate contracts with the vast majority saying they would switch to fixed-rate deals if they were given the opportunity, a recent survey has found.
In a press release published on Thursday, consumer analysis firm Testaankoop noted that 76% of Belgians support requiring energy companies to offer fixed-rate deals. 65% of Belgians would prefer a fixed-rate to a variable-rate deal. Only a minority of Belgians are currently on fixed-rate contracts.
Testaankoop noted that "although there is a clear preference for tariffs that do not fluctuate according to market prices, only 33% of consumers today benefit from a fixed-rate energy tariff."
Protection from risk
Last year, energy suppliers across Belgium stopped offering fixed-rate contracts to their customers following the enormous price fluctuations for oil and gas catalysed by Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
Over the past few months however, unseasonably warm winter weather has led gas and electricity prices to fall and stabilise across Belgium and much of Europe. As a result, Testaankoop notes that this "price normalisation" is reason for energy suppliers to start offering fixed-rate deals again.
In recent months, only a handful of energy suppliers have reintroduced fixed-rate deals for their customers. At the end of last year, Luminus announced that it would once again provide fixed-rate deals. But as La Dernière Heure points out, its fixed-rate offers remain significantly higher than current market prices. Mega also recently rolled out a fixed-rate offer but this is available only to a small number of "loyal customers".
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Testaankoop has repeatedly criticised the hesitation to reintroduce fixed-rate deals. Last month it launched a petition demanding that all suppliers offer at least one affordable fixed-rate contract. The petition has so far received more than 13,000 signatures.
"Energy prices have somewhat normalised but Luminus is the only supplier that still offers several fixed-rate deals," Testaankoop stated. "The other suppliers only offer variable tariffs where you alone assume the risk of further price increases on the energy market."
It added: "Fixed rates are much more transparent: 'what you see is what you get'. No convoluted pricing formulas or unpleasant surprises. Now that energy prices have more or less stabilised, we insist that suppliers include fixed contracts in their offers again."