The problems in the “free consumer” practice, which was initiated in 2002 with the claim of liberalizing the electricity market in Turkey and enabling the consumer to use electricity under more favorable conditions, and which gives the right to choose the distributor for the consumer above a certain consumption, continue to increase. High inflation and ever-changing energy costs are at the root of the problems.
A RECORD 4.8 MILLION
The Electricity Market Regulatory Authority (EMRA) has recently lowered the eligible consumer lower limit from 1100 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year in 2022 to 1000 kWh for 2023. Accordingly, subscribers with monthly bills over 284 liras can become eligible consumers. However, according to the relevant data of Energy Markets Operations Inc. (EPİAŞ), it was revealed that as of January 2023, the number of eligible consumers decreased by 63.8 percent compared to the same period of the previous year and fell to 102 thousand 501 subscribers. In addition, in this context, there are almost no residential (residential) subscribers left.
However, while the number of eligible consumer subscribers rose to 4 million 760 thousand 862 in November 2017, it decreased to 130 thousand 796 in February 2019. Then, in August 2021, it increased to 1 million 452 thousand 775.
Saadet Nuruilah Güleç, President of the Istanbul Branch of the Chamber of Electrical Engineers, who answered Cumhuriyet’s questions, stated that as of October 2022, the total number of electricity consumers was 40.2 million and 48.3 million. Reminding that in the free consumer model, a one-year fixed price contract is made, Güleç continued as follows:
“Firms can no longer provide these prices. Because increases in energy costs are reflected on their bills quarterly. The companies that suffered a loss began to unilaterally break the agreements.” Explaining that there was a 132 percent increase in transmission and distribution costs, Güleç noted that companies could not purchase electricity from EPİAŞ at a fixed price. According to the information given by Güleç, the prices are determined in the stock markets. Stating that the prices in the European market have increased to 12-13 cents per kWh, Güleç said, “There are similar prices in Turkey, but the problems of the exchange rates are increasing.”
Commenting on the free consumer model, Güleç stated that it is a good system under normal conditions, it provides the consumer with bargaining opportunities, and the rules of trade work.