Consumer Choice and Liberalization of Electricity Markets

Changes in Public Services
By Christophe Defeuilley

For decades, households have only played a passive role in the organization of electrical and gas systems. With the gradual liberalization of electricity and gas markets, the place and role of consumers are steadily evolving. From users they become clients with a more active role to play in the evolution of energy systems. This trend is not without a number of interrogations. If clients are expected to play a more active role, they will also have to take new risks, which do not carry the same weight for all consumers. This raises the question of public intervention in this new context: should public authorities define safeguards for certain social groups who no longer benefit from the protection of regulated tariffs? If so, what is the most effective way to implement these safeguards? This article attempts to provide some initial answers to these questions that refer ultimately to the fairness of the ongoing reforms and their social acceptance.

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