As a result, almost a quarter of a million customers are now switching to gas supply in the mode of last resort. Have you ever considered that something like this could happen?
We are in a completely exceptional situation, where hundreds of thousands of energy consumers get into trouble and have to involuntarily look for a new supplier at the least suitable time. They were put in trouble by energy suppliers who speculated at the expense of people and whose risky business collapsed.
They threw the hot potato ruthlessly at the others, at other suppliers, and at the state. We, together with other suppliers of last resort (DPI), must now ensure that customers are not left without vital energy. High prices in wholesale markets mean that the conditions of last resort supply are highly burdensome for customers.
What is the situation in innogy now? I assume you have congested call centers, administration, full branches…
You are right, the influx of incoming and calling clients is huge. In total, about 15,000 people contact us daily by phone, customer center or e-mail. This can also be seen at our branches, where long queues are formed.
Our people work overtime, take work home to do as much as we can. Thank you all for your patience, we do our best to clear up this customer tsunami as soon as possible and stabilize the situation as quickly as possible. Last week, we sent letters with instructions to all customers to whom we are to provide DPI deliveries with instructions on how to proceed. People received a schedule of advances, payment details and also information on how to end the DPI rescue regime.
If they decide to continue to take gas from innoga, we recommend concluding a new regular contract very easily via our website, without the need to visit a branch. We have prepared a simple form for them on our website innogy.cz, which they will fill in in two minutes. Based on the inputs, we will prepare an offer for them, which they can accept electronically. It’s the easiest way to get out of DPI and reduce your cost and down payment.
But there is another aspect that I would like to mention. Current events on the energy market have also put our long-term customers who want to contact us in an uncomfortable situation. I would like to assure them that we have not forgotten them and we are constantly trying to address their requirements.
At the same time, I want to ask them to postpone a visit to our customer centers if they do not deal with urgent matters for a while and wait for the situation to calm down. It is also possible to use the self-service on the innosvět.cz portal, the use of which has increased significantly in recent days. In the last Wednesday alone, 17,000 people used the world.
Isn’t it a problem for such a huge number of customers to buy energy at once?
Of course, we can buy gas for new customers and this is already happening.
And what is the price for customers in DPI?
The price of gas in DPI mode will be relatively high for the reasons I have described above. Customers already see this in the schedule of advances they received from us. Advances increased significantly, mainly due to high market prices. Another reason for high down payments is the fact that we can only calculate consumption for the heating season for six payments, ie the maximum time that a customer can stay in DPI.
What conditions will you offer to customers who want to quickly end the DPI mode and switch to a standard contract?
For customers who appreciate reliable deliveries from innoga, we recommend a three-year contract with a decreasing price in individual years. This product is significantly more advantageous than the product in DPI mode. I would like to emphasize here that advances to households will be significantly reduced after the transition to the standard supply regime, because we are budgeting them for a period of twelve months.
How do customers react? Can it be said in the first week?
Currently, the relief prevails among customers is that we will help them resolve the situation. Of course, we also record the frustration of cheated customers, especially on social networks. However, it would be fair for all those in DPI to realize the cause. They are suppliers who, with their risky procedures, have thrown hundreds of thousands of people into a difficult situation. Therefore, it is only good that the state is actively looking for ways to help customers.
What is behind the soaring energy prices?
Increased global demand for all kinds of products after the coronavirus pandemic has caused, among other things, increased demand for natural gas. In addition, last year’s heating season was extremely long, the storage tanks were relatively more empty after the winter and it is necessary to fill them before the upcoming heating season.
With the development of natural gas transportation by LNG tankers, gas has become a global commodity. Increased demand is also caused by significantly increased consumption in Asia. There are a number of factors that lead to rising prices, and this year more of them came together at once.
What is your outlook for prices for this heating season and for the coming years?
According to expert forecasts, this autumn and winter are extreme and prices are expected to stabilize next year. Currently, forward prices for 2023 and 2024 are significantly lower than for 2022. I would like to assure affected customers in particular, but also the general public, that it is in the interest of all responsible suppliers to stabilize the situation as soon as possible.