Two thirds of Estonian household electricity consumers have opted out of the universal service. However, there are still almost 100,000 universal service subscribers in Estonia, despite other electricity packages now being much cheaper.
For three months now, the price of the electricity exchange has been cheaper than the universal service, which, for electricity providers, costs more than 19 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh). Although the exchange price fell even lower in March, when it reached 10.4 cents per kWh, a large number of household electricity consumers in Estonia are still subscribing to the universal service.
"In March, we sent out offers to 200,000 customers to switch to either an exchange or fixed price contract and 102,000 customers opted out. Now, 89,000 customers remain on the universal service," said Armen Kasparov, head of energy products at Eesti Energia.
Kasparov said, that two thirds of Eesti Energia's universal service customers have now opted out.
Estonia's other major electricity provider Alexela has had fewer customers leave its universal service package.
"A little over half of the customers have left the universal service. The vast majority of them have gone to Alexela's new no-stress package," said Kalvi Nõu, Alexela's energy portfolio manager.. "Another popular choice is the exchange package, while up to five percent of those leaving the universal service have moved to a fixed price package," Nõu explained.
The cheapest Alexela and Eesti Energia packages are currently 40 to 45 percent cheaper than the universal service. Kasparov explained that in March, the average universal service subscriber paid pays €21 more for electricity than the exchange price.
So, why haven't all universal electricity users opted out?
"Good question. We haven't asked our customers. The customers decided not to, as they feel that that is the right choice for them at the moment," Kasparov said.
Alexela is trying to advise customers of the best action take. "We are definitely informing them constantly and, through different campaigns, trying to bring them onto a cheaper package. However, by law, we ourselves are certainly not allowed to make these decisions for them," said Nõu.
Editor: Michael Cole