Romania’s utilities invest in the digital customer

The liberalisation of Romania’s electricity prices is encouraging utilities to invest in new technology to remain competitive and avoid churn.
Published: Wed 26 Jul 2017

In response to a more competitive energy retail sector, utilities are finding ways in which to differentiate themselves in the market.   

Catering for tomorrow’s customer

Utility CEZ Vanzare will be focusing on integrated service solutions, offering their clients a wide range of products. Processes will also be digitalised so as to reduce time spent paying bills, explains CEO Cornelia Szabo who added that the strategy is to provide customers with personalised service packages.

Another utility Electrica Furnizare is also developing a digitalisation process. It is expanding its payment infrastructure through retail partnerships by boosting online operations and it is launching a mobile app that consumers can use to track and better manage their consumption and payments. The utility will be redesigning its Virtual Office so that it corresponds to the new visual identity launched with its mobile app, MyElectrica.  It will also be implementing web services based on open standards, which will enable the exchange of data with other automatic systems, in real time.

To further enhance its service portfolio, the utility also intends to carry out energy audit services and plans to enter the gas supply market.

Enel, one of the key players in the electricity sector, has also announced that it will be providing gas supply services in Romania.

Engie Romania, part of the French utility group, is also joining in on the action. Chairman & CEO, Eric Stab said in a public statement: “Regarding our interaction with our customers, there is a new world that we can still explore. We have basically been doing a lot in terms of applications for the benefit of our customers, through which we can track your bills and consumption, on an online basis, with your Smartphone, and even give instructions to your heating and air conditioning through smart thermostats and smart cooling.”

Consumers can also expect to call on their utility for auxiliary services that include the on-going maintenance of household electricity and heating equipment.

Reservations around Romania’s liberalisation

Szabo of CEZ Vanzare highlighted her concerns around the market liberalisation and said: “A trap in this change of supplier is the way energy prices on the free market are communicated, as the supplier often does not provide all the components that will be included in the bill. In addition, other contractual provisions regarding cancelation or potential price changes are significant for the client and need to be taken into account when the contract is negotiated (…) In the first stage, the low price of electricity charged by some suppliers played an important role in selecting an offer, but considering the evolution of prices so far, it is not the only selection criterion, with the stability of the supplier and prices gaining a bigger share.”

Electrica Furnizare explained that there are other aspects that should be considered by those consumers wanting to switch. For instance, consumers that opt to change their electricity supplier are unable to return to the regulated tariffs imposed by the Romanian energy regulator ANRE. In addition to this, the electricity distributor cannot be changed.

“The supplier can’t influence the number and duration of power outages or the quality of electricity, and can’t change the reconnection times through the contract. Against this backdrop, the analysis of all commercial and contractual conditions is essential for each supplier, aside from the price criterion, contractual provisions and the capacity of the supplier to meet all its obligations during its validity period, which are elements of utmost importance in the decision to select an electricity supplier,” said Electrica Furnizare officials.

Related Webinar