Changes in gas and electricity suppliers increased last year throughout Belgium, the country’s four regulators, Cref, Cwape, Brugel and Vlug, noted in a joint report issued on Friday.
The switches were more pronounced in Flanders and Wallonia, where about one in every five customers opted for new suppliers.
One of the main reasons for the trend, in addition to the dynamism of the clientele, was the large number of changes following bankruptcies or acquisitions of companies active on the Belgian market, the regulators explained.
One in every four Walloons (24.3%) opted for a new natural-gas provider last year and one in every five (19.5%) opted for a change in electricity supplier. A similar trend was observed in Flanders, where 22.4% of the population changed their suppliers, for gas, and 20.6% for electricity.
In Brussels 13.1% of the population opted for a new gas supplier, while 12.8% switched to a new electricity provider.
“Even if a liberalised market needs a sufficiently high rate of change for consumers to feel positive effects, this competition also puts pressure on suppliers’ profit margins,” the regulators commented. “It is therefore important to make sure that, in the long term, this does not hurt innovation, the entry of new suppliers onto the market, and the sustainable functioning of this energy market.”
The number of suppliers was generally stable in 2018, although in the gas sector four suppliers pulled out in Wallonia.
Electrabel had the largest number of access points, 46.3% for electricity and 44.3% for gas, followed by Luminus (18.8% and 17.8%).
Among regional countries, Belgium had the second highest electricity tariffs – behind Germany – but the cheapest rates for gas, with prices increasing by 10% and 17% respectively for residential clients in 2018.