Spanish Firm Fined for Tariff Hikes
Spain's competition watchdog and energy regulator CNMC fined dominant gas utility Naturgy €1.2mn ($1.36 mn) for wrongfully moving customers to higher tariffs.
Naturgy, through its former subsidiary Gas Natural Services, moved 48,700 customers from a legacy regulated tariff to its new "stable tariff" without telling them this would mean price hikes of between 8% and 14%. The regulator ruled March 15 that this was in breach of the country's Hydrocarbons Law, which governs the gas market.
The CNMC probe followed complaints from a consumer group, which said customers had received marketing materials telling them the switch would be automatic unless they phoned to opt out. The regulator said this broke the law, and provisions of the European Gas Directive that require customers to be explicitly told about price hikes.
Naturgy now has two months to appeal against the ruling in the high court, Audiencia Nacional.
The regulator has recently taken action against other utilities including Iberdrola and EDP for similar infractions.