The Consumer Ombudsman believes that Caruna’s recent price hikes have been excessive from the perspective of consumers.
The Energy Authority reviews the reasonableness of electricity transmission prices at four-year intervals. The Consumer Ombudsman does not have jurisdiction to comment on the reasonableness of electricity prices as such, but she can intervene in regard to the methods that electricity companies use to revise their prices.
According to the principles of consumer law, a business cannot make a substantial change to the prices stated in a long-term contract unilaterally, as such price hikes would constitute material changes to the contract. Changes to prices therefore need to be introduced gradually, over a longer period of time.
To be considered reasonable, prices can usually be increased by no more than approximately 10–15 % at a time. Caruna’s recent price hikes have been considerably greater. What makes Caruna’s price hikes especially unreasonable is the fact that electricity is a necessity that consumers cannot live without. Switching to another supplier is not an option for consumers either, as Caruna has a monopoly on electricity transmission in its area.
The Consumer Ombudsman has recourse to a number of supervisory methods, of which collective complaints and class actions have been brought up in the media. Whether the Consumer Ombudsman will resort to these will be reassessed after the negotiations with Caruna.
The Consumer Ombudsman will publish the outcome of the negotiations and will instruct consumers on further action if necessary. Consumers can also file complaints with Caruna.