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Italy Fines Energy Giants €15.6 Million for Unilateral Price Hikes

 |  November 15, 2023

Italy’s antitrust agency, AGCM, has slapped fines totaling over 15.6 million euros ($16.3 million) on six major energy providers, including industry giants Eni’s Plenitude and Enel. The penalties were levied for violating regulations by implementing price hikes during a period when the government had explicitly prohibited such unilateral actions.

According to Reuters, the illicit billing occurred between August 2022 and June 2023, a time frame coinciding with the government’s ban on unilateral price increases for gas and electricity supplies. AGCM, in a statement released on Wednesday, highlighted the defiance of these energy providers in the face of the regulatory directive.

Enel, one of Italy’s largest energy companies, was slapped with the maximum fine of 10 million euros. Eni’s Plenitude, another major player in the sector, received a penalty of 5 million euros. The charges relate to the companies raising prices for over 4 million customers without providing any advance warning, a clear violation of the government-imposed regulations.

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Responding to the fines, Enel defended its actions, stating that it had adhered to the ban by merely renewing expiring economic conditions and not making any unilateral variations to the contract. The company asserted its commitment to full compliance and reserved the right to take measures to demonstrate its adherence to regulations.

Eni’s Plenitude also maintained its innocence and expressed the intention to appeal against the decision, affirming that it had acted correctly within the regulatory framework.

In addition to the industry giants, regional utilities Acea and Dolomiti Energia faced fines of 560,000 euros and 50,000 euros, respectively, for failing to provide customers with sufficient advance notice of impending price increases.

Iberdrola’s Italian unit received a 25,000 euro fine for reportedly resorting to coercive tactics. According to AGCM, the company threatened to cut off customers unless they accepted a new contract under “worse economic conditions.”

The antitrust agency’s decision sends a strong message regarding the enforcement of fair practices within the energy sector.

Source: Reuters