Italy approves reforms to cut costly energy bills
The Italian government approved a set of reforms for the energy sector, which it says will snip up to 5 % off gas and electricity bills in the next three years. Italian Industry Minister Antonio Marzano, whose objective is to get tariffs down 10 % by 2007, said that theoretical tests had shown that each article of the reform package would help bring energy costs down.
Italians pay more for their electricity than any other country in the European Union and more for their gas than all
except Denmark, according to a recent report by the energy authority.
The reforms, expected to be approved by parliament by the end of the year, are aimed at encouraging the process of liberalization and opening up the national market, Marzano said. One of the key changes regards the gas and electricity networks, which within three years will be owned and managed independently, thus ending their control by former state monopolies ENI and Enel.
Another measure will free companies to take their gas and electricity supply contracts to whoever offers a better
price from 2004. Private clients will still be tied to the energy company controlling their district.
Marzano noted that, contrary to rumours in recent months, the reforms will not force Enel to sell off any more generating capacity, as it has been obliged to do in recent years in order to reach 50 % of the domestic market.