14 September 2016
Finkraft Oy has implemented a price increase in ongoing electricity contracts, claiming the increase was necessary due to changes in the market price of electricity and the company's operating costs. However, the Electricity Market Act and the Consumer Protection Act impose limitations on the electricity supplier's right to make unilateral and material changes to a contract.
During 2015, the Consumer Ombudsman received complaints on the operating methods of Finkraft Oy. The company had implemented price increases in ongoing electricity contracts, raising the consumer price by 40–60 per cent. For consumers, this change in the price of electricity supplied by Finkraft Oy translated into a one-time increase of up to 2.5 c/kWh. Finkraft Oy claimed a price increase was necessary due to changes in the market price of electricity and the company's operating costs.
Ongoing electricity contracts are often long-term agreements, and changes in circumstances, such as an increase in the acquisition cost, provide grounds for the supplier to increase the contract price. However, the Electricity Market Act and the Consumer Protection Act impose limitations on the electricity supplier's right to make unilateral and material changes to a contract.
The electricity supplier must be able to prove that the reported grounds for price adjustment, such as changes in the market price of electricity, are real and in line with the consumer price adjustment. In early 2015, when Finkraft Oy introduced its price increases, no changes had occurred in the SPOT price of the Nordic power pool that would have warranted the price increases of more than 60% implemented by the company.
On 13 September 2016, the Consumer Ombudsman took the matter to the Market Court for resolution. The Consumer Ombudsman demands that the Market Court prohibit the price increase by Finkraft Oy in ongoing electricity contracts based on changes in the market price of electricity, or in the company's operating costs that would materially change the content of the contract.
The Market Court is further requested to prohibit any reference by Finkraft Oy to changes in the market price or operating costs as grounds for price increases, unless the company is able to prove that the said changes are similar in scale to the price increase imposed on consumers.
The Consumer Ombudsman also calls for the injunctions to be made more effective by imposing a penalty payment of EUR 200,000.